• Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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BusinessDay

Ethiopia, UAE, Turkey strip Nigerians of visa-on-arrival, e-visa

Ethiopia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have stripped Nigerian passport holders of previous privileges they enjoyed, including visa-on-arrival, e-visa and outright passport issues.

Turkey no longer allows Nigerian passport holders to obtain its e-visa, which used to be a seamless process enjoyed by citizens in the past.

In 2022, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) banned nationals of Nigeria and a few other African countries from entering its capital city, Dubai. Despite several interventions of the Nigerian government, the visa ban is yet to be lifted.

Though Festus Keyamo, aviation minister, said the UAE will lift its ban on Nigerians in October, nobody knows whether this will come to fruition.

Similarly, Ethiopia stopped issuing visa-on-arrival to Nigerians two years ago and has refused to reverse it till date.

Airlines have, since 2022, issued circulars to passengers advising that they obtain their visas at the Ethiopian embassy in Abuja before travelling.

Bolanle Olukanni, daughter of Ambassador Ayoola Olukanni, former Nigerian Commissioner to Australia between 2011 and 2015, recently lamented that her parents were denied visas because of the fear they would not return.

Read also: Nigerians in Germany frustrated over passport renewal delays

Olukanni, who shared her frustration with having a Nigerian passport via her X handle on Monday, said her father, who was a retired ambassador and lived in Austria for three years, was denied a visa alongside his mum over fear of absconding.

She wrote, “I just want you guys to know that the Nigeria passport has really been bastardized. My father is a retired Ambassador who lived and served in Austria for three years.

“He applied for a Schengen visa alongside my mum, and the Austrian embassy denied their visas.”

She also lamented that 30 years of her father’s service to the country as a foreign service officer was disrespected.

“Do you realise the lack of diplomacy and courtesy and disregard for a country you have to deny a former foreign service officer a visa? A Foreign Service officer who served for 30 years and has been to over 30 countries.”

Applications for visas to South Africa have since reduced as Nigerians continue to experience delays and denials to Africa’s strongest economy.

Read also: Explainer: All you need to know about Nigeria’s visa-on-arrival process

The number of study visas issued to Nigerians last year dropped for the first time in three years, data compiled by BusinessDay from the US Department of State shows.

According to South Africa’s visa office, the department issued a total of 7,466 nonimmigrant (F-1) visas, down from 7,547 in 2022.

Oritseweyinmi Oritsejafor, a client advisor at Henley & Partners, one of the global leaders in residence and citizenship planning, in a recent interview with BusinessDay, said despite being one of Africa’s economic powerhouses and the continent’s third-wealthiest country as revealed by the Africa Wealth Report 2024, Nigeria provides a clear example of the hindered mobility spectrum of African citizens.

Oritsejafor stated that with the country’s passport granting access to just 45 destinations visa-free, Nigerian passport holders can only travel visa-free to a fraction of global GDP — just 1.5 percent.

She stated that what this means is that among the 8,200 millionaires who reside in the country, those who only have Nigerian passports are forced to navigate cumbersome foreign policy hurdles to tap into the remaining 98.5 percent of the world’s economic prowess, highlighting the necessity for bolstered passport power.

“The Henley Opportunity Index evaluates 15 investment migration countries across six parameters, including quality of education, earning potential, career advancement, employment prospects, economic mobility, and high livability, providing a benchmark for investors to compare and identify locations that offer the best ecosystems for future generations to maximize their career prospects and prosperity.

“Using the same methodology and data sources in the Africa Wealth Report 2024, we quantified opportunity in Africa’s wealthiest countries by assessing and scoring them to illustrate how families from these nations can improve their life chances and future-proof the next generation through investment migration,” she said.

She further explained that Nigeria has one of the lowest opportunity scores of the African countries her firm assessed — just 14 percent — compared to, for example, Malta which scores 55 percent, Spain with 63 percent, the USA with 81 percent, or Switzerland with 88 percent.

Read also: FG says UAE visa has been resolved, announcement is soon

Nigeria took bottom spot as country with one of 20 worst passports to hold in 2023 with visa-free access to only 46 countries.

This is contained in recently released third quarter Henley Passport Index, which is an authoritative ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa.

The index is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) – the largest, most accurate travel information database – and enhanced by Henley & Partners’ research team.

After Nigeria, other countries with worse passports include: South Sudan, with 46 visa free access to countries; Congo, 45 countries; Eritrea, 44 countries; Iran, 44 countries; Sudan, 44 countries; Lebanon, 43 countries; Kosovo, 42 countries; Libya, 41 countries, Sri Lanka ,41 countries, among others.

Singapore now has the world’s most powerful passport. The Lion City beat Japan whose passport had been the most powerful for over five years

Bankole Bernard, group managing director (GMD) of Finchglow Holdings, a Nigeria-based global travel management company, told BusinessDay that he used to think the foreign nations did not like Nigeria, which was why they refused citizens visas, but this was not true.

“Developed countries are very particular about documentations. Some agencies that help applicants with the documentations are not knowledgeable enough to do the documentations right,” Bernard said.

Susan Akporaiye, former president National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies (NANTA), told BusinessDay that despite the weakness of Nigerian passports, there are still individuals thriving and doing exploits in other countries.

“The foreign affairs need to do more engagements to reduce denials. To relocate to another country, a lot of Nigerians do not like to follow the right processes. The problem in Nigeria is that everybody just wants to leave and many do not have genuine reasons,” the former NANTA president said.