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Deny us visa, we reciprocate, Nigeria’s interior minister warns

Deny us visa, we reciprocate, Nigeria’s interior minister warns

The Nigerian government on Thursday said it would adopt the principle of reciprocity in the issuance of visas to foreigners who come into the country.

The government said it would treat foreigners seeking Nigerian visas the way Nigerians were treated by the respective countries.

 

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It also planned to introduce more stringent surveillance measures at the country’s borders in order to checkmate the inflow and outflow of people to ensure that the country was safe.

The Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo stated this at the Business Day Conference, titled:”Nigeria Forward: Catalyzing Funding for High Impact Social Projects, with the theme: “Funding for Change: Building Bridges for a Resilient Nigeria.”

The minister said the era where countries treated Nigerians with levity in terms of visa issuance was over, adding that the federal government would adopt the principle of give and take.

Tunji-Ojo, who is the keynote speaker on the topic: “Ministry of Interior’s potential high impact social projects”, said the topic was very important to him because it talked about vulnerability and the weakest people in the country.

He said: “The credibility of performance of every government has to be based only on the evaluation of how the government handles the weakest in the society. The essence of government is not just to protect the strong but to make up and amplify the needs of the weak.

“I always said this, my father didn’t give me the Nigeria of my dream. Yes, but that is not an excuse for me not to give my children the Nigeria of their dreams.

“It means the responsibility of transition from where we are to where we want to be, cannot forever be laid at the doorsteps of yesteryears, it has to be laid on our own doorstep.”

On the principle of reciprocity, he said: “Yesterday (Wednesday), the director of the centre for Illegal Migration in Turkey, came to my office. And I told him that in the next couple of weeks, expect reciprocity in terms of travel policy.

“Any country that does not give me the visa on arrival cannot have a visa on arrival in Nigeria. I’m sorry but it is the truth. We’re not a dumping ground. If you say you are useful, people will see you as being useful.

“But if you tell people you are useless, people will tell you why are you this useless. We want to partner with you and so on the table, we must be partners, we must be equal partners and our relationship of investment must be on the basis of the principle of reciprocity.

“So we are doing that to all the countries in the world. The committee is working. I will receive the report tomorrow, you charge me $100 for a visa, I will charge you $100 for a Nigerian visa.

“If you give me a visa on arrival, I will give it to you. If you say the condition for me to enter your country today is that I must have an American visa, Schengen visa, UK visa etc, you will have the same conditions to enter my country. It is not a fight, it is about the issue of mutual respect.

“My job is interior security and not external. So let’s call a spade a spade. We must change our perception. Perception is everything in life. Perception is your reputation, if people have a wrong perception about you, they will have a negative interpretation about who you are.

“So, for us, we’ve been doing that. I told them yesterday, that you have stopped issuing to Nigerians with Schengen visa, America visas, etc, please tell your people to change it because the issue of visa reciprocity is my own. The way you respond to us is the way we will respond to you, so you know we are all partners in terms of quality.”

“If they don’t know I say this, in Africa, this is the biggest economy. And you see the kind of assets Ghana has, the kind of assets South Africa has, even Seychelles, we don’t have. I’m not asking any country to open their gates to all 220 million Nigerians, no! That’s impossible. But at least we have to have a meeting point, based on mutual respect.”

 

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