by Rachel Ogbu
More Nigerians would rather be from Ghana, Senegal or Guinea when travelling around the world, new reports say.
THISDAY investigated these claims and discovered that it is mainly Nigerians who travel to China that take the passports of other countries in the region and the reason is because China gives about four weeks visa to Nigerians and do not extend it when it expires, but the country gives up to six months visa to Ghanaians, Senegalese, Guineans and others in the region.
According to reports, due to this discrimination, many Nigerian travellers are forced to disguise as citizens of other countries in West Africa, especially Ghana, to obtain visas for business or holiday.
A source at the Nigeria Immigration Service told THISDAY that Nigeria visa offices are now reciprocating the Chinese gesture because visa policy is usually based on reciprocity.
“We give them 14 days visa but we don’t have the enabling machinery to flush them out whenever their visa expires so many Chinese overstay their visa in Nigeria. Some of them even take transit visa and disappear as soon as they arrive in Nigeria.”
“Government officials do not want the law to operate so they intervene in the job of Immigration officials, but the Nigeria Immigration Service used to have investigation and inspection department whose duty is to check those who have over stayed their visa and also patrol the boundaries to stop illegal immigration into the country. But when these Chinese overstay and you want to do your job, these government officials will intervene and may even sack you.”
ThisDay Live reports:
When Nigerian businessmen go to China to buy, manufacture or process goods, four weeks are not always enough and if they leave the country at the expiration of their visa and instruct their agents to arrange and ship their consignments, they usually short-change them and as their goods purchased by the Nigerian is arriving the country, their dubious partners in China would export the same goods to the country and sell it at cheaper price, thus damaging the market for the Nigerian importer.
So for the Nigerians to stay till they are able to get their goods, they need visa that allows them longer time, hence they go for Ghanaian and other countries’ visas.
The Immigration official said the body needs logistics to be able to effectively carry out its responsibility, including patrol vehicles at the borders, communication equipment and others.
“In the 1980s Nigeria Immigration Service was patrolling the nation’s borders and preventing people of other countries from gaining entry. Today, the Boko Haram menace would have been checked if Immigration is adequately equipped. Now, these Chinese are having easy run in Nigeria because government is protecting them and those menial jobs that should be done by Nigerians are being taken over by the Chinese who are now flooding into the country.”