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US will soon remove visa ban imposed on Nigeria – President Buhari

Nigeria will soon have the immigrant visa ban imposed on her by the United States overturned, according to President Muhammadu Buhari.

In January, U.S President, Donald Trump, added Nigeria to a list of seven countries for visa restrictions.

On Trump’s travel ban list were Belarus, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania.

Afterwards, Mary-Beth Leonard who is the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, said the restriction imposed on Nigeria could be lifted if the country improves her data intelligence and guarantees a seamless sharing of information between both countries, among other conditions.

On Thursday, August 13, 2020, President Buhari said Nigeria is making progress to reverse U.S suspension of the issuance of “immigrant visas” to Nigerian passport holders.

Receiving the report of the committee on Citizen Data Management and Harmonization chaired by the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, the president expressed delight that two out of the six areas of concern raised by the United States have been fully addressed.

The committee was set up in February to address issues that led to the U.S visa ban on Nigeria.

Buhari commended the committee for its patriotic diligence in carrying out the assignment and assured Nigerians and the international community of the timely implementation of the committee’s recommendations.

‘‘I also note the progress made by Nigeria towards the removal of the visa restrictions as two out of the six areas of concern raised by the United States have been fully addressed, two are substantially satisfied while some progress is being made on the remaining two.

‘‘I am delighted that this progress, especially the uploading of lost and stolen passports and travel documents has been acknowledged by the United States government,’’ the president said.

The president also promised that Nigeria is committed to sustaining the follow-up for the removal of the visa restrictions by the United States and developing a credible harmonized National Identity Data Management System.

“In consideration of the fact that the concerns raised cast doubts on the credibility of the nation’s citizen identity data management system, the scope of the committee’s assignment was expanded to include strategies to harmonize the various citizen identity data held by different government ministries, departments and agencies.

‘‘I have gone through the highlights of the report and must commend the chairman and members of the committee for painstakingly carrying out the assignment in spite of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘‘The recommendations as highlighted are capable of addressing the concerns raised by the US government as well as lead to the development of a reliable national citizen identity data management system,’’ he said.

In his remarks, Minister of Interior and Chairman of the Committee on Citizen Data Management and Harmonization, Aregbesola, recalled that the body was set up on February 3, 2020, to among others, review the visa restrictions imposed by the U.S and develop systems and processes that would address the security concerns raised.

The committee was also tasked with reviewing the status of Nigeria’s numerous citizen identification data, including biometrics held by different ministries, departments and agencies, and propose strategies for the harmonization of same.

“It is our hope that the findings, strategies and implementation plans proffered, if fully implemented, will expedite the lifting of the visa restrictions while bequeathing to the nation an enduring identity management system,” Aregbesola said.

Student, tourism and business visas were not affected by the ban.

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