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NIGERIA'S VISA POLICY: Interior Minister Upbeat About Real Time Access For Investors …… Holds Stakeholders Consultative Meeting

Dr Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo
Minister of Interior

"The Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is about the ease of doing business, opening of the country’s borders for inclusivity, economic growth without compromising national security." Tunji-Ojo.

"The Visa review meeting, is crucial to the Federal Government."

The Honourable Minister of Interior, Dr Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo has expressed the commitment of the federal government to provide real time access to Nigeria’s Visa by investors willing to visit the country and conduct their legitimate businesses within a period of 72hrs.

Dr. Tunji-Ojo stated this at a stakeholder’s consultative meeting on Saturday, 11 May 2024 at the Nicon Hilton in the nation’s capital, Abuja.

The Minister who assured that it would be business unusual, said the various points of entry into the country would witness tremendous improvement in the ease of doing things under the Renewed Hope Administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, said that the Visa review meeting, is crucial to the federal government.

Dr. Tunji-Ojo, flanked from his right is the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Aishetu Gogo Ndayako, Amb Nura Rimi, Permanent Secretary FMITI and representative of the Permanent Secretary, Foreign Affairs during the stakeholders meeting on Review of Nigeria's Visa Policy.

According to the Minister, “the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is about the ease of doing business, opening of the country’s borders for inclusivity, economic growth without compromising national security. It is a delicate balance and we know the role the NIS; the lead agency in charge border management and control. The Visa Policy is key to this. We sat down, ran our analysis, and checked that, most of the countries that have the highest growth rate in terms of GDP and per capital income are countries such as the UAE, Qatar, Singapore that have revolutionaries their visa and immigration policies. Their Financial capital is limited. However, the truth is that all countries of the world are fighting to attracting the same capital. That is why no country will want to make access too difficult for visitors/investors.

CGI Kemi Nnadap
Controller General, Nigeria Immigration Service

He pointed out that people from all strata of life call his line for approval for visa, which in his view, should not be the case.

“These are basic things that we should simplify as a nation. Nigeria is a beautiful country that is investor friendly; the biggest black nation on the earth with enormous potentials and a huge investment climate that is attractive to any investor in the world and a tourist attraction any day.

”We have all it takes to attract the best of people from all over the world and therefore, should not on the other hand make it difficult for them to have simple access. That would become a problem.” He stated.

“As a country that wants to grow, we must first demystify the bottlenecks and this is why, the Ministry of Interior decided that the time to act is now. We understand that Visa Entry permit is the responsibility of the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS as stated in the NIS Act 2015 but we cannot achieve this in isolation. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs are critical partners to what we seek to do and achieve. Our vision must align for us to get the desired results we seek.

“The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment is key in the promotion of investors who must be provided access into the country. Therefore, it has a major role to play in this deliberation. This also includes the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council, PEBEC to actualize the ease of doing business in Nigeria.

He called for the automation of the processes and the inclusion of technology that ensures real time solution to real time problems, stressing that digital problems require digital solutions and not analog processes. The language of the Renewed Hope Agenda is efficiency and efficiency means finding the right solutions at the right time to the problems on ground.

Speaking on illegal immigrants, the Minister called for discussions on the management of illegal immigrants as it is an important issue stressing that, crimes at point at entry has created some level of confusion that needs attention. He enjoined all to feel free to express themselves if the meeting must succeed for the benefit of the country.

“For people seeking short business visas, I do not see why anybody has to wait for more than 72hrs to secure a business visa into Nigeria. There is technology and the essence of technology is to be a catalyst that will enhance efficiency. There is a work-flow that we all must look into, together. We must get a solution that will make all of Nigeria to work and put away all divisive tendencies for the overall good of the nation.

Addressing journalists at the event, the Interior Minister stated that the stakeholders consultative meeting is very important because access to your country is key for investors and we must be able to have a balance between national security and investment which will lead to investment promotion, improve job creation and also, foreign direct investment.

He noted that an effective visa administration is an essential issue for discuss so that the process will be streamlined especially as it concerns short-stay visas and other categories of visas. We also plan to look at how to make the entire processes more efficient in such a way that the best of investments can be attracted, open up the space for tourism, infrastructural development and create a balance in the country’s national security architecture, without losing the economics gains.

He reiterated his belief that Nigeria’s visa policy is the best in the world stating further that the country is in an endless pursuit of being excellent and that, the Renewed Hope Agenda is about prioritizing nigeria and making it the best in the world.

“It is one thing to have a policy and it is another thing entirely to implement it. What is the implementation framework and what role do we think technology has to play?

He disclosed that there is the need to make access more real time for all as this is what informs why people visit UAE, Dubai, Qatar and we can do these without jeopardizing our national security.

“We need to open up our space for investors who are willing to come into the country and invest. We must not look at just having the policy but also, look at the implementation.

Earlier in her welcome address, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Interior, Aishetu Gogo Ndayako disclosed that, “Part of the agenda of the meeting is to reshape visa regulations, procedures that have profound impact on individuals, businesses and the nation as a whole, which must align with the vision of Mr. President’s Renewed Hope Agenda.

She enjoined all the stakeholders to feel free to express themselves, as their pivotal roles are important.

She further disclosed that the meeting will allow for reflection on the current state of the Nigeria Visa Policy, identify areas of improvement and charter a course of transparency, efficiency and fairness in the country’s visa system.

She noted that, “by working collaboratively, we can address challenges, leverage on opportunities and foster a visa frame work that facilitate legitimate travel of all, promote economic growth and uphold the policy of openness, inclusivity and reciprocity.

The Permanent Secretary therefore encouraged all the participants to actively engage in the discussion of the day, share perspectives and contribute recommendations towards enhancing the Nigeria Visa Policy.

“Your insights are invaluable as we strive to create a visa system that is responsive, user friendly and in line with international best practices.” She stated.

Among those present are; the Controller General, Nigeria Immigration Service, CGI Kemi Nandap, the Permanent Secretary Foreign Affairs, Amb Adamu Dambuwa represented by the Director, Consular Services, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Amb Nura Abba Rimi and the Executive Secretary, Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council represented by a Director from the Council.

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