Top-tier public affairs advisory firm, Thekla Advisory, has issued a comprehensive response to the recent visa policy review announcement by Olubunmi Ojo, the Minister of Interior, during a press conference held on October 4th, 2023.
During the event, the Minister expressed concern about the failure of some countries to reciprocate Nigeria’s visa-on-arrival policy and declared the intention to review Nigeria’s visa and passport policy. In response to the Minister’s announcement, the firm has advised the Minister to reconsider the proposed actions by the Ministry by prioritising Nigeria’s economic well-being.
Godson Ogheneochuko, Thekla Advisory’s Founder, emphasised the need for restraint saying, “one of the key objectives of the Nigeria Visa Policy of 2020 was to improve the ease of doing business by easing the entry process to facilitate business and attract foreign direct investment. It appears to us that the Minister is keen to retaliate the non-reciprocity action by other countries but a reversal of the Visa Policy will not give greater benefit to Nigeria, especially now that we are in a full-fledged foreign exchange / economic crisis”.
He further advised that “Any country that is in dire straits, such as ours, should make facilitation of business meetings and transactions in Nigeria, a non-negotiable objective. Maintaining the visa policy is vital for attracting foreigners and foreign investment to Nigeria”.
As alternative actions, Thekla Advisory recommends that the Visa Reciprocity Policy should be retained and even extended to more countries. In addition, the process for issuing business and tourism visas should be enhanced to ensure that such visas are issued within a maximum of three days.
The comprehensive response by Thekla Advisory also recommends that the Ministry of Interior should collaborate closely with the Foreign Affairs Ministry to initiate discussions with countries that have not reciprocated the visa policy or have imposed stringent entry requirements to identify the underlying reasons for these countries’ actions, which may include concerns about migration, security, or trade-related protections.
Subsequent actions should align with Nigeria’s best interests, rather than a retaliation that could dampen our chances of attracting investors from such countries.
Thekla Advisory further advocates for the adoption of a trade-focused strategy, suggesting that Nigeria continues to provide the Visa-on-Arrival incentive for countries that have not reciprocated Nigeria’s visa policy but have a track record of consuming Nigerian-made goods and services or hold potential for further trade and exports. This approach should be complemented by actively encouraging the business communities of these countries to visit and invest in Nigeria, possibly through initiatives like trade shows and incentives.