NIGERIA plans to introduce several categories of visas including one specifically targeted at investors as part of the ongoing plan to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) into the country as part of the government’s economic diversification programme.
Currently suffering from limited investment, Nigeria attracted just about $2bn in FDI in 2018 and although the ease of doing business in the country has improved lately, the government is looking to improve on this by wooing investors harder. Nigeria’s annual budget is only about $28bn but according the Africa Development Bank, the country has an annual $100bn infrastructural deficit.
Mohammad Babandede, the comptroller-general of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), said the government will soon introduce various categories as part of its visa reform. He added that the visa categories being considered were those for tourists, retirees outside the country who wish to come back to Nigeria and those for investors.
Mr Babandede said: “If you have money, genuine money, you are welcome and we are also encouraging visitors who have the intellectual capacity to assist in building capacity in Nigeria. If the visa is not going to break national security or our good economy, we would encourage it to be delivered in a transparent way to cut out corruption.
“We promised to make the prices of passports available to the public to see and pay for it. One of the quick wins we have done is to standardise the operations of the passport, as we want Nigerians to know the process of getting a passport and visa on the passport.
“So it is not just the reforms but what is in the reforms, which is greater service delivery. The important thing is that in each reform we do, we consider national security.”
He added that the current Operation Swift Response under the supervision of the office of the national security officer was intended to tackle border insecurity. Mr Babandede said that the current border closure has helped Nigeria curtail not just the people who enter but also Nigerians who take the bush paths to travel without passports.
According to Mr Babandede, over the last month, NIS records showed that no fewer than 11,000 persons have been prevented from travelling out through illegal means. He added that the service also deported persons who were not supposed to be in the country.