By Dapo Akinrefon, Charles Kumolu, Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Gbenga Oke
Unless the Federal Government reviews its visa policy with the United States of America, Nigerians will no longer enjoy visas to the US with two-year validity, according to an Executive Order issued on Friday by President Donald Trump.
Section 9 of the Executive Order states: “The Secretary of State shall review all non-immigrant visa reciprocity agreements to ensure that they are, with respect to each visa classification, truly reciprocal insofar as practicable with respect to validity period and fees, as required by sections 221(c) and 281 of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1201(c) and 1351, and other treatment.
“If a country does not treat United States nationals seeking non-immigrant visas in a reciprocal manner, the Secretary of State shall adjust the visa validity period, fee schedule, or other treatment to match the treatment of United States nationals by the foreign country, to the extent practicable.”
Currently, Nigeria issues a visa with one year validity to US citizens, which is a non-reciprocation of the two-year visa the country issues to Nigerians, which is what the US President seeks to correct.
Also, Nigerians who hold dual nationality will be affected if their other passport is from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen, the seven Muslim-majority countries “of concern.”
By this provision, except the Federal Government quickly reviews the validity of Nigerian visa to Americans, Nigerians also will be issued with one-year visas.
With immediate take off of the Trump’s order, Nigerians holding valid two-year US visa are most likely going to be affected.
Nigeria is also not reciprocating the fees charged by the American government, despite shorter visa validity.
While the US charges Nigerians $160 for a typical visit visa, Nigeria charges $180, in addition to a $35 “processing fee.”
The section on dual nationality involving seven Muslim-majority countries is not expected to affect a significant number of Nigerians because a second citizenship of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen is not common.
However, Nigerians who have been to Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen in recent times may be subjected to extra immigration control with possible deportation.
Not Presidency matter
Reacting to the development, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina said: “It is not a presidency matter.”
Similarly, a Research Professor and Head, Division of International Politics, Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, NIIA, Prof. Osita Agbu said: “There have been a lot of activities stirred up by the Trump presidency all over the world. And the situation is impacting on the world to the extent that most allies of the United States are getting worried. We have seen people being denied entry into the US and others being sent back at the airports. The executive order on immigration is catastrophic. The Trump presidency is forgetting that there is reciprocity in international relations which means that citizens are being treated the way their country treats others. During the time of former President Yar’Adua, Nigeria came up with citizen diplomacy.
“Countries can come up with such policy depending on their capacity. The executive order violates the US constitution and is against the spirit of their constitution because America is a country of immigrants. The Trump presidency should realise that no nation is an island. American citizens are all over the world and this law makes them insecure instead of secure. Trump has succeeded in taking America back. His administration appears to have forgotten that globalization has brought the world together even though it has its negative sides like terrorism. I don’t see how this law will protect US citizens. It behoves of the Republican Party to be mindful of some of these extreme laws.”
Nigeria has the right of reciprocity — Abe
On his part, Senator Magnus Abe, who represents Rivers South East constituency in the Senate, said Nigeria has the right of reciprocity.
He said: “I think who gets to America is basically the decision of the American government but whatever the decision they have reached, Nigeria also has the right of reciprocity. I think the lesson for Nigeria in this whole saga is that we must make our own country great. If we have developed our own country, all these talks about who gets American visa or not will be inconsequential. I believe Nigeria has the resources America has. We are well endowed just like America but we refused to harness the opportunities we have which is why there is the rush for people to run out of the country.”
FG should reciprocate —Afenifere
Also reacting, Pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, called on the Federal Government to reciprocate the action.
Its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yinka Odumakin said: “Nigeria should also extend its visa for US citizens to two years to enjoy reciprocity.”
It’s still a proposal —Chukwukere, APC Imo
Deputy Chairman of Finance Committee in the House of Representatives, Austine Chukwukere in his reaction said: “I am not completely aware of the details. We will always study it before making any cogent statements. As far as I am concerned, it is still a proposal in the making that has to pass through a legislative process. He is not the only person to take decisions in the United States.”
Also reacting, Uduma Igariwey, who represents Afikpo federal constituency of Ebonyi State said: “The visa policy of a country is determined by the country, no country determines the visa policy of another country. It is left for Nigerian government to reciprocate in kind. Iran has responded. We cannot criticise what Trump has done, it is the place of American government to determine its visa policy.
“It is left for us, Nigeria to determine or reciprocate what America has done. The government of the day must think out a very robust way to respond to the policy. We should also be aware of our limitations. There is nothing we can do than to also look inwards in our foreign policy.”
We can’t flex muscle with America —Okorie
Linus Okorie (PDP, Ebonyi) in his reaction said: “It is unfortunate that Nigeria is so affected. It appears to be in fulfilment of his promises to Americans before he won the election in putting America first.
“It is a call on Nigeria’s policy managers to quickly respond to it. Unfortunately, we cannot flex muscle wit America. We need America. I am of the opinion that our foreign policy makers should sit down and look at the policy. It is imperative on Nigeria’s policy makers to quickly adjust to this policy of America by reciprocating.”