Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, has urged the United States Government to review its visa ban on Nigerians.
The Speaker stated this yesterday when he hosted the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, in his office on a courtesy visit.
Gbajabiamila, who noted with displeasure the visa ban decision, said Nigeria should not be treated that way.
He declared: “We’re excited that you’re here because the US and Nigeria have a wonderful relationship. There are two nagging issues which I would like to bring forward this time around, which underscore the importance of our relationship.
“One is the issue of the ban on Nigerian immigrants. There’s still no clarity on the issue. For some, it’s very hazy, and for others, they need to understand what’s going on. Even those who want to visit the US are being affected in one way or another.
“The United States or whichever country has the right to know who comes into their country, but I think sometimes it’s important to look at things and understand why some set of people are being denied the visa. There are ways we can sit down and figure out what the issues are.”
The Speaker also asked what the US Government was doing to assist Nigeria in the area of insecurity, which he said has become a major challenge in the country, adding that the Nigerian National Assembly would always be ready to play a diplomatic role between both countries with a view to addressing issues that may come up.
Gbajabiamila said: ”Security is always on the front burner. I’ll like some clarity on what exactly America is doing to assist Nigeria on the issue of insurgency.
“I’m aware that there are certain legislations in the United States that may be an impediment to the arms purchase agreement. That’s why I talked about legislative diplomacy so that we can address it.”
While responding, the US Ambassador said the visa issue was not a ban and that the action was not meant to be a permanent one, adding that it would hopefully be resolved “in a single-digit month.”
Leonard explained that the action was based on information sharing, stressing further that the US is a very good partner of Nigeria in the area of security.