Nigeria: Trump's Travel Ban - Matters Arising

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama deliver statements to the press, at the Department of State, in Washington D.C., on February 4, 2020.
10 February 2020
opinion

Tony Ademiluyi urges the leadership to take advantage of the ban by putting its house in order

On January 31st, US President Donald .J. Trump slammed on Nigeria alongside five other countries a travel ban. This is coming after his administration ended the birth tourism which was a huge toast among Nigerians who flock to the country like bees to give birth to their babies as it will give them a head start in life as they will avert the ugly incidence of being denied visas in the future. It is a hedge which will ensure that they won't have to pay for the ineptitude of heartless African and Nigerian leaders.

This ban majorly affects the bid of Nigerians who want to immigrate to God's own country. The authorities said it won't affect the student visa or tourism bid of migrants. But invariably it will lead to a drastic reduction of Nigerians getting these visas since the spotlight has now been beamed on the joke of a country which prides herself as 'The Giant of Africa.'

The major reason for the ban was because of the lack of a database to properly address security issues especially with the current wave of terrorism which is affecting the entire world. There is hardly any profiling of the Boko Haram insurgents. The government has not been proactive in battling its internal security issues with kidnappers, bandits and terrorists running amok and some of these undesirable elements being exported abroad.

The US has a point here as national security is of paramount interest to them especially after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre which left thousands dead.

We recall with sadness the involvement of Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab in a bomb attempt in a US plane in 2009. This obviously made the US place Nigeria under the radar.

Many Nigerians are furious with Uncle Sam. But the US will cater to the interests of their citizens first as they owe no apologies to Nigerians who feel 'aggrieved.'

According to a report by Al Jazeera, Nigerians are the third highest people who overstay their visas. About 30,000 annually were found to have been guilty of this and this is a huge security issue especially in these times of terrorism challenges. Nigeria obviously had no data on the visa defaulters.

The response of the Nigerian government to the recent visa ban was rather lame. The foreign affairs minister, Geoffrey Onyeama has been talking on the determination by the government to reverse the ban without any concrete agenda.

An age-long cliché goes thus: 'Problems are opportunities.' The ban by the US government should act as a clarion call by the Muhammadu Buhari-led government to ensure good governance so that they will be no need for Nigerians to flee the nation in droves. This was a man who promised to put an end to health tourism while he campaigned in 2015 only for him to use taxpayers' funds to treat himself for an undisclosed ailment in the United Kingdom. Does Boris Johnson run to Canada on medical tourism? Does even the South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa run to the US for his health needs?

The world is watching and is not fooled by the incompetence of our leaders which has made the country the laughing stock among the international comity of nations. We recall during the military rule of the late General Sani Abacha, he forged ties with the Middle East when the west slammed his dictatorial government with heavy sanctions.

A responsible leadership should damn Uncle Sam and look inwards for creative ways to solve her nagging challenges instead of going cap in hand begging for a soft landing.

We should take a cue from Rwanda which emerged from the ashes of a genocide to becoming one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Their leader looked inwards and ensured that his countrymen became self- sufficient and built a haven which was conducive for foreign investors to come in droves to invest in. it is sad that the most populous nation in Africa still wants to perpetually seek validation from the west.

The US government charges thousands of naira for its visas and denies a majority of the Nigerian applicants while making billions from the applications alone.

It is high time that Nigerian leaders rose to the occasion and damn Uncle Sam by ensuring that this nation becomes one of the most desirable places to reside in the globe. It may sound utopian but the journey of a thousand miles begins with one positive step.

Ademiluyi wrote from Lagos

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