By Vera Anyagafu
THE widespread belief among Nigerian visa applicants to Ireland is the complexities in securing a permit into the country.
Besides highlighting this belief among Nigerian visa applicants, which of course was disclaimed by the Ireland mission in Nigeria, recent years have witnessed an upsurge in the number of Nigerians travelling to Ireland.
Speaking on what Nigerian Visa applicants can do differently to make the work of Irish consular officers easier, the Ambassador of Ireland to Nigeria Mr. Sean Hoy stated that a large number of Nigerians have become nationalised Irish citizens.
He disclosed that by the census in 2015, Nigerians in Ireland were above 16,000 and the number kept increasing, “And of course when you become a nationalized Irish citizen you are no longer recorded in our statistics as a Nigerian, so I think the figure that we generally use is somewhere around 25,000 but it could be higher and it is certainly one of the largest group living in Ireland”, Hoy said.
According to him, the embassy has a team here from Ireland working on Visa and if the volume is not large and the risk of fraud not large we will not need to have a team here. We have a large number of Visas here and they approve most of them. “Our Visa process is very transparent and every decision that is taken is accounted for, so it is not a situation where the officials have discretion and say yes one day and no the other day, but there is a minimum amount of information required, a lot of forms that are rejected do not have the required information and this is one failure aspect.
Vanguard gathered that it is so considering also that Nigerian visa applicants ensure there is no fraudulent documentation found in the visa application package. This Ambassador Hoy said, will negative the application, stressing that one important thing to note is the risk which both governments are aware of.
He said the Nigerian government is aware of people trafficking and people been taken from Nigeria to Europe where they believe they are going to get for good jobs and that some of the people are harvested by middle men who bring them to Europe under false pretences. Sadly, he pointed out, that some of these young women end up in the sex industry where they can have no rights and are left in a very difficult situation, adding that, “I know that the service we provide to stop this from happening is not a service to protect Ireland but it is a service also to protect the people of Nigeria”. Still advising on false visa documentation, he warned that the embassy have very easy way of identifying false visa profile, saying that it is understandable when visa applicants become frustrated by the embassy’s services, which he thinks is not all about protecting his country, but also about protecting people in Nigeria.
Responding to the question on the number of Nigerians Ireland trains annually, Ambassador Hoy said, “We do not have a formal arrangement for training but we are certainly keen to increase the number of Nigerians in our universities that is for certain. When we had the trade mission in 2013 lead by our minister; minister Castallo and I was part of that delegation we had certain level of institutions from Ireland here in Nigeria looking for students but I think when you asked the question how many people have we trained you should look at how many here have benefitted in education from Irish missionaries over the years and we contributed to training Nigerians as much as anybody else overtime.”
He also told Vanguard that people have talked to him about setting up an alumni of people who have studied in Ireland and his response was that they should rather think of an alumni of people who have been educated in Nigeria by the Irish. “I have met so many Nigerians of all faith in very senior positions who have very positive feed- back to me about been educated when they were young men and women and how their characters were formed by the missionaries it is something that the Irish and the Nigerians have in common, “We were both educated by the same people and that goes along way of helping two cultures to understand themselves”, Hoy admitted.