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Nigeria making progress to reverse US immigration visa suspension – Buhari

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Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday said the country is making progress to reverse the United States suspension of the issuance of immigrant visas to Nigerian passport holders.

“I also note the progress made by Nigeria towards the removal of the visa restrictions as two out of the six areas of concern raised by the United States had been fully addressed, two are substantially satisfied while some progress is being made on the remaining two,” Buhari said in a statement signed by presidential spokesman Femi Adesina.

“I am delighted that this progress, especially the uploading of Lost and Stolen Passport and Travel Documents has been acknowledged by the United States Government.”

Buhari, according to Adesina, made the disclosure while receiving the report of the committee on Citizen Data Management and Harmonization chaired by the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola in Abuja.

The President expressed delight that two out of the six areas of concern raised by the United States had been fully addressed.

The committee was set up in February this year to address issues that led to the U.S temporary visa restrictions on Nigerian passport holders.

The suspension, which came into effect on February 21, 2020, does not apply to other U.S visas such as those for official, business, tourism and student travel.

Commending the committee for its patriotic diligence in carrying out the assignment, Buhari assured Nigerians and the international community of the timely implementation of the committee’s recommendations after due consideration.

The committee, among other things, recommended the establishment of a National Criminal Information Management, fashioned after the INTERPOL model, and a National Criminal DNA Laboratory, to aid criminal investigation, administration of criminal justice as well as sharing of relevant information.

Buhari noted that the implementation of these and other far-reaching recommendations as articulated in the report will fully address all outstanding issues that led to the visa restrictions.

“An effective Citizen Data Management System is critical for socio-economic planning, improved service delivery and good governance, as well as national and global security. It also has the over-arching benefit of enhancing integrity of the nation’s citizens’ identity instruments for the purpose of information sharing,” Buhari said.

“Accordingly, the Committee’s recommendations on the strategies for harmonizing existing databases, improving the infrastructure for the National Identity Database as well as a review of the supervisory mechanism of the National Identity Management Commission would be given serious consideration.

“The implementation of the recommendations as estimated by the Committee would require enormous resources. In this regard, an Implementation Committee would be constituted to further study the recommendations and develop a workable implementation plan,” Buhari said.

Buhari also pledged the Nigerian Government’s commitment to sustaining the follow-up for the removal of the visa restrictions by the United States and developing a credible harmonized National Identity Data Management System.

“The recommendations as highlighted are capable of addressing the concerns raised by the US Government as well as lead to the development of a reliable national citizen identity data management system,” Buhari said.

Minister of Interior and Chairman of the Committee on Citizen Data Management and Harmonization, Rauf Aregbesola, said the committee’s mandate was to review the status of Nigeria’s numerous citizen identification data, including biometrics, held by different ministries, departments and agencies, and propose strategies for the harmonization of same.

He noted that Nigeria had fully satisfied two of the six areas of concern raised by the U.S, two others substantially satisfied, and progress being made on the remaining two.

“It is our hope that the findings, strategies and implementation plans proffered, if fully implemented, will expedite the lifting of the visa restrictions while bequeathing to the nation an enduring identity management system,” Aregbesola said.


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