Never mind Nigeria’s closed borders, we have a new visa policy


Nigeria is quite the country of contradictions. Mid-2019, the Nigerian Customs authority, with express consent from the Presidency chose to close Nigeria’s land borders. The reason Commander Hameed Ali, head of the National Customs Authority gave for the ban, just days before the country signed a pan-continental trade treaty whose major requirement was open borders, was that foreign rice was being smuggled into the country. Since then, Nigeria has violated the trade treaty, while failing woefully to enforce the border closure uniformly across the country or gain the dividends of increased yield within the country. But as is customary for Nigerian citizens, we move.

However, this has not deterred the presidency from mimicking the decision making process of more established countries like Germany and Canada, who are looking to attract skilled immigrants to their countries to meet professional shortages, and announcing a new Visa Policy. Announced this week in Abuja, President Buhari was quoted to have said about the amendments to our national visa policy is targeted specifically to attract innovation, specialized skills and knowledge from abroad to complement local capacity.

Considering Lagos state government just banned micro-transport in the state in service of its megacity dreams, crippling foreign investors who brought a cumulative 200 million dollars into the local economy, it is hard to see how this new visa policy is expected to convince skilled immigrants to leave the relative safety of their countries to seek their fortunes here. This is what the president has said about the policy:

the implementation of the Nigeria Visa Policy 2020 will support the attainment of a globally competitive economy for Nigeria by building on the efforts of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council.

Earlier in the course of this Administration, we introduced the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (2017-2020) with one of the objectives being to minimize bottlenecks which impede innovation and market based solutions for building an inclusive economy.

The Nigeria Visa Policy 2020 is intended to attract innovation, specialized skills and knowledge from abroad to complement locally available ones.

This is a lot of ambition for a country that has to shore up its foreign reserves to prevent its currency from crashing, a country hemorrhaging the investors it already has. It will be curious to see what kind of magic the new Visa Policy is supposed to create.

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