Nigeria working to lift US visa ban

Nigerians are hoping that the travel ban gets lifted after a short period of time.

Nigeria has firmly committed to resolving issues that resulted in the suspension of immigrant visas to the United States. In a joint meeting between Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama and U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the Nigerian representative expressed their desire to resolve the issue quickly.

This was after the United States President, Donald Trump, expanded his previous travel ban to target prospective Nigerian immigrants. The move elicited sharp debate in the political scene with some alleging bias and discrimination as the motive behind it. The U.S argued that the countries mentioned failed to meet its information-sharing and security standards. Onyeama pointed out that Nigeria had identified all those areas and is working quickly on them.

Among the areas of contention are electronic passports, both lost or stolen, data sharing, access to criminal histories of applicants, and information on terrorists being made available. Onyeama hoped that once those gray areas were met they would be taken off that list.

He pointed out how people had arrived at misguided conclusions given the untimely nature of the ban devoid of a clear explanation. However, now that they had a fruitful meeting, progress will be made. Onyeama said President Buhari’s government is working on setting up the right architecture to have the necessary information relayed to the United States and other Interpol member countries when necessary. 

Nigeria's top diplomat confirmed he was blindsided by the impromptu directive, as he was due to travel to Washington and hold a meeting on expanded cooperation with his U.S counterpart. Going by the State Department data, as of 2018, 7,920 visas were issued to travelers from Nigeria. Over half of them were for immediate relatives. Data from the Department of Homeland Security shows over 30,000 Nigerians overstayed their visas, only being outnumbered by Brazilians and Venezuelans.

On a positive note, Pompeo released $308 million in frozen assets looted from Nigerian coffers, then laundered through the United States financial system. The assets belonged to Sani Abacha, the military dictator who ruled the country in the 1990s. Mr. Pompeo also mentioned that Nigeria is America’s second-largest trading partner in Africa. American companies are responsible for the creation of 18,000 jobs in the populous West African nation.