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Henry Okelue: Nigeria’s New Visa Policy Is Not For Fulani Herders

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Fake news merchants have been on a roll and there are people who believe that Nigeria’s new visa policy will make Africans flood Nigeria without control. Nothing is farther from the truth than this.

It is also not a chance to bring in Fulani herders from Niger, Mali, or wherever else. This is one of the silliest parts of the fake news.

The policy is a visa-on-arrival policy that makes it easier for tourists and visitors from the rest of Africa outside ECOWAS to be able to come here without much stress. It is another step to make The African Continental Free Trade Area initiative that the African Union has embraced, and which Nigeria is a major signatory to, to be a success. It is a policy that makes movement of Africans through Nigeria easier.

The policy just removes the need for holders of an African passport who want to visit Nigeria going to an embassy or high commission in their country of residence to apply for a visa. They will now just apply for a visa online, stating their reason for wanting to visit Nigeria and also their airport of entry. They then wait for 48hrs to get an approval.

Once they get approval, they can then get on a plane and head to Nigeria. When they arrive at the airport they specified in their online application, they will report at the visa-on-arrival desk where they will be issued a visa, after their biometric data has been taken by immigration officials, then going through the usual immigration checks for people arriving in Nigeria, before going on their merry way.

The visa they get on arrival is a visitor’s visa, not a work visa or an immigrant visa. With a visitor’s visa you are not allowed to work, and employers in Nigeria are held to very strict rules to make sure they abide by this. Work or immigrant visas cannot be got using visa-on-arrival, the process for that is different and requires more processing. A visiting visa got via visa-on-arrival is for a limited period of time, just like if it was approved if the visitor applied for it at the Nigerian Embassy or High Commission in their country of origin. So no one should fear that anybody will be streaming in. Anybody still coming to Nigeria needs a visa.

With regards to those saying it is a way to allow Fulani herders in so that some imaginary entity will Islamize Nigeria, nothing can be farther from the truth than this. The Fulani’s are found all along West Africa, in Benin, Togo, Ghana, Niger, Senegal, Chad, etc. These countries are part of ECOWAS and so before now citizens of those countries do not even need a visa to visit Nigeria. If they wanted to come Islamize Nigeria, they would have done it ages ago. They do not have to wait for a visa-on-arrival policy for Africans which does not apply to them. ECOWAS member states are not affected by the visa-on-arrival policy. So people of the Fulani tribe of those countries do not need a visa to visit Nigeria.

Visa-on-arrival is a welcome policy, in fact it is long overdue. Opening up Nigeria to visitors is good for the tourism sector, the hospitality sector, and generally fosters good bonds with our African brothers and sisters. It is good for the economy.

The policy kicks in January 1st, 2020.

Dear African brethren, we look forward to seeing you all from January 2020. Come experience the Nigerian hospitality. Come see for yourself why Naija jollof is the best on the continent.

To apply for visa-on-arrival, visit https://immigration.gov.ng/voa-new/ and go to the “African Nationals” link.

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Henry Okelue is an IT Consultant in Abuja –

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