Our concern over FG’s visa-on-arrival policy– FCT residents
The unprecedented move by President Muhammadu Buhari to allow African passport holders to apply for visa upon arrival in Nigeria has attracted varying reactions with some applauding the policy for the economic benefits it may bring to the nation. However, some Abuja residents who spoke to Williams ABAH and Edrina EMMANUEL particularly expressed concern over the policy especially as the nation grapples with nearly a decade of insecurity fuelled by cross-border links. Excerpts:
BASSEY DUKE ESU: Well, let’s look at the positive and negative impact the policy would have. In my opinion, the positive result will outweigh the negative over time. Firstly, it will reduce the bureaucracy in getting visas and travelling between African countries. It would make the process easier for people to move around and that would increase business relations and investment within Africa.
Secondly, it would improve the spirit of brotherliness within Africa. If people can move around countries in Africa with ease, they would be encouraged to live like a family one way or the other because they feel welcomed. It would reduce intercontinental stereotypes.
However, when a country has this kind of policy in place it needs to carry out proper checks to ensure that people coming in do not have other reasons except the ones stated in their visa applications. This is to ensure they do not come in with negative motives.
Once we have a proper system at our airports in place, we can carry out proper checks and ensure their reasons of coming are good. I think in the long term, it would benefit us. In West Africa this has been happening already; visas get stamped when you go to other countries so it has made movement very easy and increased business relations, and peace within West African countries.
DONALD DAMOLA: I am not in support of this policy because Nigeria will become porous. It will allow a lot of people to migrate into the country. Given the level of insurgency we are suffering in the country, I don't think allowing foreigners have free access to the country is a good idea.
This will make our level of insecurity to worsen. Another thing I see is that Nigeria is still a developing country. If this policy is implemented, youths from other African countries might migrate here to look for greener pastures.
It would be an attempt to increase our population again. There will be high competition on getting jobs, even the little skill jobs available that Nigerians are struggling to get. We would be risking a lot of things if we allow this to happen. The point I am trying to make is that it's too risky and Nigeria cannot take such a risk.
SAMUEL IBITOYE: It is not a bad idea to give access to other African countries to come to Nigeria before getting their visas. It will give investors a sense of confidence to invest in the country.
But we actually need to be very careful about who and what goes in, and out of our borders, especially with the security challenges we are going through right now. So the government should put in place a very strict checking point to ensure that the people coming in have no evil intentions.
SUNDAY NWAKE: Sometimes I feel as if the president has lost all ideas that could help him achieve the desired results. I really salute the courage of the senate for rejecting the policy instantly. Last week, the Nigerian senate rejected the visa-on-arrival policy of President Muhammadu Buhari, describing it as premature considering the spate of insecurity in the country.
If the president felt that the present decay in the economy, was due to lack of foreign investors, he should also endeavour to apply an alternative to create an enabling environment that will encourage them to come in for business.
JOHN OBETA: Government should be very careful on how it handles sensitive issues. Even if the presidency wants to do eye service to foreign investors that all is well, he should do it with caution. The recent announcement he made on the issuance of visa-on-arrival to all African travelers by January 2020, and suspended the requirement they apply in advance does not speak well of us as a country.
As we speak, majority of persons from the neighbouring African countries are here in the country contributing nothing to the economy. Yet government wants to give them more power to fly in in large number.
CHISOM NWOGU: It is a dead policy. If the president has given order to all African countries to come to Nigeria without the legal procedure, it then means that our laws on visa application are of no use.
Since he made the announcement, neither the executive nor a member of the National Assembly had yet submitted a bill for domestication of the said African Continental Free Trade Agreement which is a necessary prerequisite before the policy’s implementation. So there is need for him to go to the drawing board and apply the necessary rules and regulations.
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