The Federal Government has officially launched the Nigerian Visa Policy (NVP) 2020. This enhanced visa policy by Nigeria, one of Africa’s key economies and demography, comes on the back of the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, a treaty seeking to establish a continent-wide marketplace with increased trade and freer movement among its major economic powers. The objective of the reforms that have birthed NVP 2020 is to strengthen Nigeria’s position as a key economy in Africa by attracting more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the country’s economy which would in turn provide jobs for the people and lift Nigeria’s teeming population out of poverty in line with the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari to take 100million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years.
NVP 2020 is also designed to support the attainment of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (2017 -2020) and is a pathway to achieving the Security, Economy and Transparency (SET) Agenda of the present Administration.
The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola while speaking at the launch of the NVP 2020 at the State House, Abuja on Tuesday 4th February 2020, stated that its operation is cardinal to the Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria. The new visa regime is expected to boost economic activities in the areas of tourism, aviation, entertainment, commerce and other areas where Nigeria has comparative advantage over other African countries. It also presents Nigeria with the opportunity to apply the principle of reciprocity with her visa policy in the nation’s bilateral and multilateral relations.
“The NVP 2020 introduces special visas for Nigerians in diaspora who either by birth, marriage or nationalization have assumed dual citizenship. Such category of Nigerians will now be able to make use of the passports of their adopted countries to visit Nigeria without the need for short stay visa”, he said. The Minister expressed the commitment of his Ministry to the implementation of the NPV 2020 in view of its supervisory role on the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS).
Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola assured that the NIS would adhere to the published conditions of issuance of visas in a professional, timely and transparent manner. He assured that NIS would invest heavily in the training of the officers and men that will be charged with the responsibility of processing visas in all our visa issuing centers and passport control at our points of entry. The Minister emphasized that NIS would also work with all stakeholders within and outside Nigeria to ensure that the policy is not abused and the security of Nigeria and indeed other countries is not compromised.
“The implementation of the NVP 2020 will not compromise national security as adequate control measures have been provided both before and after entry into Nigeria”, the Minister stressed. While encouraging Nigerians in Diaspora to respect the provisions of the immigration laws of their new countries as well as those of Nigeria, the Minister congratulated the Nigeria Immigration Service for the landmark policy and also invited all prospective visitors, investors and residents to a new and refreshing experience in Nigeria and with Nigeria Immigration Service.
“The implementation of the NPV2020 will require collaboration with several MDAs involved in diplomacy, trade, investment, education, tourism, manufacturing, monetary policies, security, intelligence and many more”, the Minister reiterated.
Some of the features of NVP 2020 include, Visa On Arrival for African Union nationals, increase in the classes of visas from 6 to 75, creation of visa codes for all classes of visa and introduction of e-visas.
The benefits of the new NVP 2020 are many. It presents a good opportunity for Nigeria to be a major consideration for investment in Africa and hosting of international events particularly the ones scheduled to hold in Africa. It also serves as a major boost for Nigeria’s aviation, entertainment and tourism industries.
The new visa policy is expected to take Nigeria some steps up in the Africa Visa Openness Report published annually by the African Development Bank (AfDB) which would be a further boost on the global Ease Of Doing Business league table.
Mrs. Grace Njoku
Chief Information Officer