President Muhammadu Buhari saturday constituted a committee to examine and provide an update on the restriction of issuance of immigrant visas to Nigerians by the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Friday.
The committee, headed by the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, among others, has the mandate “to study and address the updated US requirements,” on the development.
But the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has blamed the government of President Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for the ban, saying it was a function of their bad choices.
The US on Friday placed Nigeria and five other countries on temporary travel restrictions for immigrant applicants over security matters.
A statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said the committee would work with the government of the United States, International Police (INTERPOL) and other relevant stakeholders with a view to ensuring that “all updates are properly implemented.”
He also explained that the restriction placed on Nigeria by the United States bordered only on issuance of immigrant visas to Nigerians willing to relocate to the United States and would take effect from February 21, 2020.
According to the statement, the restriction did not affect issuance of visas to Nigerians visiting the United States for official, medical, business, tourism, and student travel purposes.
The statement also said the DHS had explained that restricting the issuance of immigrant visas to Nigerians was dictated by the necessity to review and update the methodology adopted by the US on assessment of compliance with certain security criteria by foreign governments.
The statement, which added that Nigeria remained committed to its mutual and diplomatic relations with the United States and other international allies particularly, on issues bordering on global security, added that the decision by the US had culminated in the move to enhance the procedure for information sharing between Nigeria and America.
The statement read: “On 31st January 2020, the United States (U.S) Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced temporary travel restrictions on six (6) countries including Nigeria.
“For Nigeria, the restriction is the suspension of the issuance of “immigrant visas” to Nigerian passport holders only. This suspension shall come into effect on 21st February 2020. The suspension does not apply to other U.S visas such as those for official, business, tourism and student travel.
“The DHS states the suspension of ‘immigrant visas’ became necessary following a review and update of the methodology (performance metrics) adopted by the U.S Government to assess compliance of certain security criteria by foreign governments. This resulted in certain enhancements on how information is shared between Nigeria and the U.S.
“Nigeria remains committed to maintaining productive relations with the United States and its international allies especially, on matters of global security.
“Accordingly, President Muhammadu Buhari has established a committee, to be chaired by the Hon. Minister of Interior, to study and address the updated U.S. requirements.
“The committee will work with the U.S Government, INTERPOL and other stakeholders to ensure all updates are properly implemented.”
However, blaming Buhari and the APC for the development, the PDP described the sanction as yet another huge misfortune brought by the Buhari Presidency and the APC, which have continued to wreck the nation with its compromised handling of security issues, in addition to escalated bloodletting and human rights violation under their watch.
PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, lamented that the travel ban would have grave consequences on economic, educational, and healthcare opportunities as well as hurt family and social ties, while further putting pressure on the overall national economy.
But more depressing, the PDP said was the fact that the APC and the Buhari Presidency had been reversing diplomatic gains achieved by previous administrations while gradually pitting the nation against other countries of the world with its poor record on security, corruption and human right issues.
“Our party is worried that our nation that, have become a global destination and investment hub under the PDP, is now being pushed back to a pariah status under the incompetent and divisive APC, as reports from other members of the international community, including credible international organisations, have continued to raise concerns on security and human right issues under the Buhari administration.
“Only recently, our nation was rated as third country with the highest level of terrorism in 2019 after Iran and Afghanistan, in the Global Terrorism Index rating by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP),” the PDP statement stated.
This, PDP said was in addition to the damning reports by reputable organisations like the Amnesty International (AI), Transparency International (TI), European Union (EU), United States Department of State among others, which in various independent reports, raised grave issues of escalated corruption, violation of human rights, disregard to rule of law, abuse of processes, election rigging and poor handling of security issues under the APC
“The APC administration has failed to rejig its security high command despite the calls by Nigerians, in the face of worsening security challenges and mass killings in our country under their charge.
“It is also worrisome that the APC-led administration had failed to take a decisive step to apprehend and prosecute perpetrators of acts of terrorism including the mass killings in Benue, Nasarawa, Bauchi, Taraba, Kogi, Adamawa, Borno, Yobe, Zamfara, Kaduna, Ekiti, Kogi and other parts of the country under the current administration.”
The PDP restated that such failures by the APC had continued to bolster insurgents, bandits and kidnappers to continue to launch deadly attacks on Nigerians.
Besides, it said the APC has failed to account for hoodlums and political mercenaries it imported from neighboring countries to assist in unleashing violence on Nigerians during the heavily rigged 2019 general election.
The PDP, therefore, urged the National Assembly not to relent in its efforts to take decisive action on security, as the travel ban was a wake-up call on Nigerian leaders and all critical stakeholders to address the issues at stake.
But the party has also appealed to the United States to ensure that the ban did not hurt innocent Nigerians already bearing the brunt of the poor handling of security in the country under the APC administration