Ministry of Interior to review Nigeria’s immigration and visa policy
The move is aimed at easing all the processes for Nigerians both at home and abroad.
Nigeria’s Minister of Interior, Dr. Olubumi Tunji-Ojo, disclosed this when he received the Chairman and Management of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) on a courtesy visit in his office in Abuja.
Dr. Tunji-Ojo who said the immigration law of every nation should be based on reciprocity explained that when the laws are reviewed any country that grant Nigerians visa on arrival, Nigeria would treat its citizens the same way.
He said; “We are reviewing our immigration policy, I sincerely believe that the immigration policy of any nation not just Nigeria must be based on the principle of reciprocity as found in international law. And I also believe that Nigeria should not be a dumping ground because this is not a dump site. I believe that the majority of people who come to Nigeria, come for economic reasons not just for tourism. we need to strengthen our visa regime, if it’s tourism, nothing stops you within two days from making decisions about some of those things. But if you want to come and work, then of course we must, by all means, take our time to do our due diligence security profiling, because as much as we want people to be comfortable we must also not sacrifice national security. We must balance both if they are areas, especially in the diaspora where also we can look at the possibility of also seeing what can be done to also help the financial situation”.
Speaking on the delays and long-distance Nigerians in the Diaspora had to travel before being captured for their passports, the Minister of Interior noted that the printing machine in London would be increased to four to serve more people in the United Kingdom.
“We need to increase the passport printing machine from two to four in London because our capacity per day in London has increased and not just London but the whole of the UK. You can only do 800 per day and when you have thousands of Nigerians it becomes a problem, even when you increase to 4 it means you can only do 1600 per day, still not enough. You must also understand that your passport is a security document, so is not what the private sector should do. printing and issuance of passports is the responsibility of Immigration services,” Dr Tunji-Ojo said.
According to Dr. Tunji-Ojo, NiDCOM was one of the most important government agencies in the country whose role should not be restricted to welfarerism alone, but to also provide solutions for the future of Nigerians in the Diaspora.
He further said that “the Nigerian Government and the Ministry of Interior would provide the necessary support required by NiDCOM in providing services to Nigerians in the Diaspora.”
He said that the $26b remittance by the Nigerians in Diaspora was arguably larger than the nation’s budget hence the need to create an enabling environment for those in Diaspora to invest more back home.
He said; ‘‘NiDCOM deserves all the support needed to carry out its functions and the Ministry of Interior would provide that support to ensure you have succeeded. Your budget should be special to enable you to carry out the task ahead of you.”
The Chairman Nigerians in Diaspora Commission NiDCOM Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa commended the dynamism brought in by the Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo in the improvement of the issuance of passports to Nigerians both at home and abroad.
Mrs Dabiri-Erewa said Nigerians in Diaspora appreciated the transformation going on in the sector, however, more needs to be done for the diaspora.
She advocated for a more effective passport capturing and collection process for Nigerians living abroad.
“We now have visa on arrival and we have to thank the government for that which makes our job easier. I think the process can be smoother. The ten-year passport makes them excited, but what we need to let them know is that applying for a passport on time before your passport expires, that’s six months before, is better so that you won’t keep rushing. You have done so much in clearing the backlog of two hundred and seven thousand in a few months is amazing, but we also need such for the diaspora. There is an improvement but more needs to be done for those in the diaspora,” she said.
Mrs Dabiri-Erewa solicited a working collaboration with the Ministry while rolling out some of the activities of the Commission since its inception.
She listed data mapping of Nigerians in the Diaspora to know the actual number of Nigerians living there, improvement in diaspora remittances, creating diaspora focal persons, holding annual diaspora day on July 25, Badagry Door of Return, Diaspora Quarterly lecture series, National Diaspora Investment Summit, Diaspora Investment Trust Fund and many interventionist programmes for the welfare of Nigerians.