July 30, 2019

US visa ban on election-riggers

US announces priority appointments for student visa applicants

THE decision of the United States of America to impose visa restrictions on Nigerians it deems as having played nefarious roles in undermining the integrity of the 2019 general elections in Nigeria is heart-warming. The decision was formally announced by the US Mission in Nigeria on Tuesday, July 23, 2019.

According to Morgan Ortagus, a spokesperson of the State Department: “These individuals have operated with impunity at the expense of the Nigerian people and undermined the democratic principles and human rights”. However, the US law does not permit that the identities of the affected individuals be made public. The implication is that they will find out when they go to the US Embassy for visas.

The USA and the United Kingdom had, on the eve of the general elections, January 25, 2019, warned that they would impose visa restrictions and other serious sanctions on election riggers and those promoting violence and impunity. They had sent election monitors, along with the European Union and ECOWAS, to monitor the elections and report their experiences.

READ ALSO: The vicious cycle of slave rearing

This is probably the first time the observer missions of the major Western powers have gone beyond merely observing elections in Nigeria and publishing the reports of their observer missions. Making election riggers and promoters of violence pay dearly for their malfeasance will go a long way in imposing deterrence and reining-in the excesses of our politicians.

The importance of this measure cannot be overemphasised. Election-rigging is the mother of all corruption. It does not allow the people’s true choices to prevail because it steals the people’s mandate and hands it over to those rejected at the polls by the people. It promotes corruption, poor quality governance and underdevelopment. These in turn increase poverty among the people, stoke intense criminality and violence which trigger migrations to safer and more opportunity-laden countries of the West.

It is, therefore, also in the overall national interests of developed nations to encourage genuine democracy and good governance in developing countries to reduce the menace of migrants from badly-governed and war-torn Third World nations threatening to destabilise their countries back home.

We call on the USA, the UK, the European Union and all countries of goodwill to expand the visa restrictions beyond the affected election riggers and violence promoters. They should also deny members of their families access to their educational and health systems and other good things of life that election-rigging makes impossible to provide in developing countries.

Their finances should also be monitored and stolen funds seized and repatriated just like the Abacha loots. Nothing less than a comprehensive package of sanctions will curtail the excesses of these political miscreants.

If this is done, the developed countries will not only be helping us, they will also be helping themselves.