The internal crisis in Nigeria is not caused by visa on arrival policy. I do not see any reason to scrap the visa-upon-arrival (VUA) privilege granted to Africans, but the process of its issuance should be tightened instead. So that the people will feel safe amidst the influx of foreigners and visitors.
Boko Haram and ISIS did not invade Nigeria and other West African countries because of visa on arrival policy. Calls for the scrapping of the VUA privilege have been strident in the wake of rising concerns over security issues spawned by the rising number of foreign nationals in Nigeria.
In line with recommendations by the African Development Bank (AfDB) in its Africa Visa Openness report, more countries have begun making it a lot easier for other Africans to visit, and President Muhammadu Buhari took a great step when he announced a “Visa on Arrival” policy for all Africans travelling to Nigeria as from January 2020.
The Nigerian Senate should understand that getting a visa to visit another African country has typically been very difficult, not to mention the expensive visa fees. When procured, the visas are typically only for a short duration.
Even then, getting the visa isn’t enough to stave off extra hassles at entry points, no thanks to the suspicions of immigration officers who sometimes appear bemused that another African is visiting their country as a tourist.
There is no need for the Senate to invite the Minister of Interior to explain visa on arrival policy. The Senate needs to study visa on arrival policy document prepared by the NEPAD, Regional Integration and Trade Department at the African Development Bank.
For the first time, African travelers have liberal access to over half the continent, the 2019 Africa Visa Openness Index published by the African Union Commission and African Development Bank reveals.
The report was launched recently on the sidelines of the Africa Investment Forum, which opened in Johannesburg, South Africa. The move was part of efforts to promote tourism and attract foreign direct investment. All stakeholders – embassies, airline operators, partners and governments have been duly informed. Nigeria is a member of NEPAD and African Development Bank and Nigeria.
The policy authorizes visas to be granted on arrival at the airport or other entry points subject to satisfaction of specific Immigration requirements. The Visa on Arrival policy will not compromise the country’s security; the government and relevant stakeholders such as the Office of the National Security (ONS), International Police Organisation (INTERPOL) and the Immigration will profile visitors to make sure that they do not have questionable character before entering the country.
Despite concerns over the increasing number of foreign nationals in Nigeria, the Senate should understand that in Africa, most regional blocs allow easy entry of citizens across their borders.
Discussion on visa on arrival policy had been initiated by African Development Bank and NEPAD. I see the national interest in Buhari’s announcement, which has already been followed up by the Nigerian Immigration Service.