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Much ado about US visa ban

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Nigeria, U.S. , Travel ban, Visa ban

Visa Ban: THE United States government on January 31, 2020, made good its intention to impose a ban on the issuance of immigrant-class visas to Nigerians and citizens of Eritrea, Sudan, Tanzania, Kyrgyzstan and Myanmar, ostensibly in line with President Donald Trump’s policy of keeping Americans safer.

What it simply means is that for now, it will no longer allow Nigerians to emigrate to live permanently in the US. But those who intend to visit and go back home (tourists, medical holidaymakers, businessmen and women and students) are not affected. It effectively shuts the door on the once-booming Nigerian emigrations which in 2018, saw 8,100 Nigerians being given visas to live in America.

Nigerians have received this policy with mixed feelings which they have been freely expressing. Some accuse Trump of “racism” for targeting Muslim majority, African and Asian and conflict-infested countries. There are those who fear this policy will impact negatively on relations between Nigerians living in America and their family members in Nigeria.

It also means that the age-long practice of members of the Nigerian elite sending their pregnant wives to America to have their babies in order to make them American citizens is now on hold.

READ ALSO: Travel ban: China’s foreign ministry blasts Trump

Whatever meaning we may want to read into this is neither here nor there. The issue is that in March last year America warned it would take this step unless the Nigerian government and others improved their “security” and “information-sharing” standards.

It is also true that America has the right and power to protect its citizens and regulate how foreigners come and leave their country. Though the US is often called “an immigrant nation”, no country will allow itself to be the population dumping ground of the world. The national interests of every nation are always held paramount.

Perhaps the unintended good side of this policy, for us, is that it has forced the Federal Government to set up the Rauf Aregbesola panel to work with American officials and INTERPOL to fix the problems that led to the ban with a view to lifting it. It has (hopefully) jogged the Muhammadu Buhari administration out of its inertia on our blooming, multifaceted insecurity.

We hope the panel will speed up its work to minimise problems the policy will impose on the family relationships of Nigerians living in America, and to ease the growing pariah-status perception of Nigeria.

For the longer term, Nigeria must wake up. The “giant of Africa” must take firm steps to stop being looked down upon or increasingly sidelined by powerful countries like the US which used to crave our friendship and see us as strategic partners.

We must work harder to keep the best of our human resources at home to make Nigeria greater.


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