Nigeria’s Ambassador to the Netherlands, Oji Ngofa, has expressed optimism that the Dutch Embassy in Nigeria will resume the issuance of Schengen Visas in Abuja in the shortest possible future.
Mr Ngofa spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Sunday, ahead of the visit of Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands to Nigeria this week.
In 2013, the Netherlands Embassy in Nigeria swapped their visa application processes in Nigeria with the French Consulate-General in Lagos and the Embassy of Belgium in Abuja.
Mr Ngofa explained that following dialogues between the Nigerian Foreign Ministry and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Netherlands Consulate office reopened its services in Nigeria in 2018 after closing it in 2013.
He said the Netherlands trade office in Lagos has also been upgraded to a Consulate, adding that this should be a stepping stone to the issuance of visas by the Netherlands Embassy to visa applicants in Nigeria.
He stressed that the issuance of Schengen Visas to Nigerians by the Netherlands is only reciprocal as they have the ease of getting Nigerian visas directly from the Nigerian Embassy in the Hague.
“We have had consular dialogues with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and we are trying to ensure that all the obstacles towards achieving the direct issuance of visas are removed.
“Because at the moment, they have outsourced the issuance of visas to the French Consulate in Lagos and the Belgium Embassy here in Abuja.
“And we think that is not reciprocal because at the moment, we are offering our services to them in the Hague and we think that they should resume.
“Since 2013, they closed their consulate in Nigeria that was issuing visas. Now, that has been reopened, it was part of the agenda during the visit of the Minister of Development Cooperation in July.
“We have upgraded their trade office in Lagos to a Consulate and we hope that should be a stepping stone to the issuance of visas by the Netherlands to Nigerians who wish to travel to Schengen countries.
“We are very positive, very soon we would have a positive outcome. We have had a lot of complaints from Nigerians who wish to travel to the Netherlands or to Europe through the Netherlands”, Ngofa said.
The envoy told NAN that resolving the challenges of visa issuance to ease travel procedure was a top priority on his agenda as Nigeria’s representative to the Netherlands.