Visa on Arrival Policy and National Security


Boko Haram, ISIS, bandits, kidnappers, yahoo-yahoo boys did not come to Nigeria because of the implementation of visa on arrival policy. The Nigerian government in March, 2020 suspended its visa on arrival policy over fears of further spread of coronavirus. The Secretary to the Government of the Federation Boss Mustapha made the announcement at a media briefing on March 20, 2020. Visa on arrival is not a bad policy in itself, but the concern is whether the country has developed the right capacity to implement it without undermining Nigeria’s national security and assets.

Nigeria’s visa policy was first presented by President Buhari on February 4, 2020, at the Council chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja. The policy, according to Buhari, was announced to attract innovation, specialised skills and knowledge from abroad to complement local capacity in Nigeria. “The new visa policy provides an avenue to achieve African integration by the introduction of visas on arrival for short visits to Nigeria for holders of passports of African Union (AU) countries,” he said.

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) recently called on President Buhari to immediately proscribe the Miyetti Allah groups existing in the country as was done to IPOB as the first step to ending the raging herdsmen crisis in the country. The association also urged the federal government to review its open visa or visa arrival policy as it had allowed armed herders from West African countries easy access into the country.

Addressing the media recently in Makurdi from a text with the theme ‘Why Buhari must act fast to save Nigeria from a second civil war and disintegration, the Benue State CAN Chairman, Rev. Akpen Leva cautioned that the influx of the herdsmen was worsening insecurity in Nigeria. According to him, “Fulani herdsmen from countries like Chad, Mali, Niger, Cameroon and Burkina Faso, among others, have continued to troop into Nigeria. These are the herdsmen that are carrying highly sophisticated weapons and are killing Nigerians on their ancestral land. Worried by this ugly situation, we call on the President Buhari to without further delay stop the policy of visa on arrival to enable Nigerian security agencies to check the influx of militia herdsmen and other security challenges. We must also point out that we have come to a level where anything that affects the Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria, the Presidency reacts with immediate alacrity but when other Nigerians are crying, it does not worry the presidency.”

There is no link between visa on arrival policy and the emergence of Boko Haram. Visa on arrival policy started in 2020 and Mohammed Yusuf founded the sect that became known as Boko Haram in 2002 in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital. He established a religious complex and school that attracted poor Muslim families from across Nigeria and neighbouring countries. Yusuf’s arrest elevated him to hero status.

The Nigeria Visa Policy 2020 was intended to attract innovation, specialised skills and knowledge from abroad to complement locally available ones. The NVP is a global visa system that will boost internal security because there is biometrics linked to online applications for each applicant. Chances of criminals beating the system are negligible. Biometrics is to be conducted at port of entry which is a major boost to Nigeria’s national security. The Nigeria Visa Policy 2020 has security identity number which is like the nationalidentification number, or national insurance number which helps to boost internal security used by the governments of many countries as a means of tracking their citizens, permanent residents, and temporary residents for the purposes of work, taxation, government benefits, health care, and other governmentally-related functions.

I wish to throw more light on the issue of visa on arrival as many people are not aware and usually get embarrassed on it. I want to let all know that you cannot acquire a visa on arrival without a letter of approval from the delegation of national security in the country of your origin. So you need somebody to do this at least one or two weeks before your arrival. The visa on arrival policy will not compromise the country’s security. The government together with the relevant stakeholders such as the Office of the National Security (ONS), International Police Organization (INTERPOL), and the Immigration Department will profile visitors to make sure that they do not have a questionable character before entering the country.
––Inwalomhe Donald,