Nigeria formally asks U.K. to `reconsider’ new visa policy

The British envoy promised to convey Nigeria’s concerns to his government.

The Foreign Affairs Minister, Olugbenga Ashiru, has called on the U.K. Government to reconsider its proposed visa policy that imposes a 3,000 pounds (N750, 000) bond for intending visitors from Nigeria.

A statement issued by the ministry on Tuesday in Abuja said Mr. Ashiru summoned the U.K. High Commissioner, Andrew Pocock, to formally register Federal Government’s displeasure to the policy.

The policy, scheduled to commence in November, will impose the cash bond to visitors from Nigeria, Ghana, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka

The statement quoted the minister as describing the policy as “not only discriminatory but also capable of undermining the commonwealth family’’.

It added that the proposed policy would negate the joint commitment by Prime Minister David Cameron and President Goodluck Jonathan, to double the volume of trade of both countries by 2014.

The ministry’s statement also noted that the policy would hinder people-to-people contacts, which it said remained a core principle of the commonwealth. It added that the decision came at a time when Commonwealth Foreign Ministers had unanimously recommended a proposal to remove visa requirements for holders of official and diplomatic support for member states.

That proposal is slated for adoption at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka in November 2013, the statement added.

Mr. Ashiru, therefore, warned that Nigeria had a responsibility to take “appropriate measures’’ to protect the interests of its citizens, who might be affected by the proposed policy.

According to the statement, the minister recalls with “nostalgia’’ how the U.K. government in 1985 unilaterally jettisoned a practice that allows commonwealth nationals to travel freely to the U.K. and to other member states.

The minister, however, expressed regrets that the action by the U.K. Government 28-years ago weakened the “bonds of the commonwealth family’’.

Responding, the statement quoted the U.K. envoy as saying that the new policy “could, indeed, affect a few Nigerians, especially first time applicants’’.

The U.K. High Commissioner said it was regrettable that the yet-to-be announced policy was leaked to the media as the modality for its implementation had yet to be worked out.

He assured the minister that the views and concerns of Nigerians would be conveyed to his home government.

(NAN)


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