By Deji Elumoye in AbujaThe Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, has called on the Government of Qatar to end its visa restriction on Nigerians.
Saraki made the request at a meeting with the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior of Qatar, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasser Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, in Doha.
The Senate President, who led a National Assembly delegation to the 140th General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) taking place in Doha, lamented that the visa ban is negatively affecting Nigerians as it prevents them from visiting the Middle East nation.
According to him, lifting the ban would help Qatar in showcasing its vast investment opportunities, technological advancement and other achievements to the rest of the world.
“I want to make an appeal that the visa restrictions placed on Nigerians be lifted. Nigerians are good people and we travel a lot.
“This restriction is not good for both countries and I urge you to reconsider your position on that. The world needs to see the good things you are doing here and lifting your visa ban on Nigerians will encourage more people to come here and enjoy your beautiful country,” he said.
While calling for more collaboration between the two countries, especially at the parliamentary level, Saraki lauded the leadership resilience of the Qatari government.
He said there was the need to set up a a legal framework to enable skilled workers and professionals in Nigerians to legally gain employment in Qatar.
“I want to commend your fighting spirit in standing up for your rights. You have demonstrated that you mean well for your people and what you have done is worth emulating.
“That said, I think both countries (Nigeria and Qatar) need to strengthen their ties, especially our parliaments. We need to collaborate to achieve many things together. The collaboration will be good for the two countries and for our people.
“In the area of sports, we need to do more together. Nigeria is a sport loving country. We have talented people in various parts of the world, including Qatar, doing great things in sports. If we collaborate, we will be able to develop that sector too,” he said.
Responding, Al-Thani promised to look into the visa restriction and ensure that it is resolved within the shortest time possible.
Earlier, Saraki held a bilateral meeting with the Speaker of the Parliament of Kenya, Mr Kenneth Lusaka, where both leaders called for more collaboration between the parliaments of the two countries.
The Senate President also met with the President of the IPU, Ms Gabriela Cuevas Barron, who is expected to visit Nigeria before the expiration of the 8th National Assembly in June.