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How visa ban on politicians will aid Nigeria’s democracy – Analysts

…Say ban should extend to corrupt persons

The recent visa ban on some Nigerian politicians by the United States, if vigorously implemented, will help in checking the excesses of desperate politicians and restore sanity to the electoral process, according to analysts.

The analysts, who spoke with BusinessDay in separate phone interviews on Wednesday, said the visa restriction was a clear sign of the US support for Nigeria’s democracy.

The US had on Monday announced its decision to impose a visa restriction on some Nigerian politicians for their actions during the November 2019 governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States and those undermining the country’s democracy in the run-up to the September and October 2020 Edo and Ondo governorship elections.

“In July 2019, we announced the imposition of visa restrictions on Nigerians who undermined the February and March 2019 elections,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

“Today, the Secretary of State is imposing additional visa restrictions on individuals for their actions surrounding the November 2019 Kogi and Bayelsa State elections and in the run up to the September and October 2020 Edo and Ondo State elections,” he said.

Barely 24 hours after, the United Kingdom said it would take action against individuals who mastermind violence during the Edo and Ondo governorship elections.

In a statement published on its Twitter handle on Tuesday, the British High Commission in Nigeria said the sanction could include restrictions on the eligibility of the affected politicians to travel to the UK, restrictions on access to UK-based assets, or prosecution under international law just as it did after the 2019 elections.

Applauding the US decision, the analysts urged that the banned politicians must be monitored while implementation of the ban should be vigorous. They also called for the visa ban to be extended to corrupt politicians and individuals who had siphoned the nation’s wealth while in public office.

Emmanuel Dania, political analyst, said the ban showed how the US can help the nation’s democracy, amid calls for overhaul of the nation’s electoral process, adding that corrupt politicians and individuals who abuse public office must also face similar ban.

“It would help to emancipate the Nigerian citizens. There is no doubt that the political elites have taken over the citizens. Things like this would begin to make them do things differently, but I hope they extend it to people who are corrupt and can’t account for their source of wealth after serving in public office,” Dania said.

“If they do that, it would help put some level of sanity among those people. They all want to go out and I would like to encourage other countries and the United Nations to follow suit,” he said.

Idowu Omolegan, an analyst, said though the ban is commendable, its implementation must be vigorous to check any lapses.

“It could help, but we have to check and watch its implementation. The fact is that some people may be afraid and may not want to do anything to make America ban them. The calibre of people the ban is directed at, these people are playing politics for us in a wrong way,” he said.

Speaking in a similar vein, Lanre Ogundare, however, said there was a limit to which other nations can help Nigeria, stressing that the country must urgently carry out electoral reforms to salvage its democracy.

“Nigeria must carry out electoral reforms; there is a limit to what others can do for us. But I support the decision of the US. Our politicians have become so desperate and hell-bent on rigging any election that they are not popular,” Ogundare said.

“Look at what happened in Kogi State, it may happen in Edo State if care is not taken. You can hear the comments of some politicians during the campaigns.

“I would support the European Union, other countries should join them and enforce the ban on them,” he said.

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