4 November 2013

Nigeria: Relief As UK Scraps Visa Plans

Lagos — LOCALS have expressed excitement over reports that the British government has shelved its plan to force visitors from Nigeria and other “high-risk” countries to pay a cash bond of £3 000 before entering the country.

British media reported on Sunday that junior coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, had blocked the scheme backed by Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservatives.

The government had been preparing to pilot a scheme requiring visitors from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Ghana and Nigeria to pay the deposit for a six-month visa. They would have to forfeit the money if they over stayed.

Reports in June had said the scheme would initially target thousands of visitors.

Olugbenga Ashiru, Nigerian former foreign minister, also said in June that the bond scheme was “not only discriminatory but also capable of undermining the spirit of the Commonwealth family.”

Reacting to the news about the scraping of the policy, some Nigerians described the move as a positive development.

They said that the policy would have dampened the relationship between Nigeria and Britain.

“I think that (reversal of plans) is the best thing to do. The idea was a bad one from the beginning. How can a country that should be seeking better relationship with other nations by stifling entering to its country with such intended Dracula policy. I am happy with the decision to reverse it," said Biodun Olubode, a public affairs analyst.

Olubode said Britain should look for alternative to check immigration abuse instead of hurting the long cordial relationship it had with other countries.

“Britain has a right to protect its citizens from perceived dangers from nationals of other countries. While that is not in doubt, there are better and many ways of doing that.

"Personally, I knew that the Visa bond approach was a bad idea that would have pitched Britain with affected countries,” he added.

Lagos-based lawyer, Allen Igbienedion, said he was excited about the decision to reverse the plans.

“I have always been against that policy. It was the most unreasonable and discriminatory policy I have seen in recent time.

"How can a country that is a major player in international politics ever consider such an idea in the first place? Whatever the case, I am glad that someone in that government is finally thinking well,” said Igbienedion.

A businessman, Lanre Bakare, expressed excitement. “I have been contemplating on stopping my business trips to Britain because of that policy. With this news, I will certainly continue my business there again,” he said. - CAJ News

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