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    FG to digitise processes for air travellers

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    Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, minister of interior, announced on Thursday that the federal government plans to digitise processes to improve travel experience for international air travellers.

    According to him, these processes will include an e-gate technique, online passport processing, and an advanced passenger information system, effective December.

    The minister said this in Abuja during BusinessDay’s breakfast meeting, which centered on catalysing funding for high-impact social projects.

    Already, as of October 1, the immigration service has been able to clear all the 204,332 passport backlog on the minister’s directive.

    According to him, all these new reforms are geared towards improving the country’s ease of doing business, allowing easy access and procedures to individuals and attracting the much-needed investments, since it has been proven that technology can enhance the process and simplify responsibility.

    Tunji-Ojo said: “In the area of passports, it is not just about clearing the backlog; I have told them at immigration. We have cleared the backlog 100 percent, it is gone, but it is about the backlog never having a space in our country. It is not acceptable, this is the biggest black nation on Earth.

     

    “I see no reason why I need a passport and I need to cancel a day’s job. Just because I need my right, it is your right, I am not doing you a favour by giving you your passport. We must understand the fundamental difference between the right and the privilege.

    “And that is why by December this year, if you need your passport, you apply online, you upload your passport photograph, your supporting documents and attestation online. You only go to the office for biometric and nothing more.

    “Any action of the state that causes inconvenience is not in the interest of the people. During break, lunch period, people should just walk into the immigration office and go back to work. We need to make life easy.”

    Consequently, by February, travelers will not need to go back to the passport offices to collect their passports but they will be delivered to their houses, the minister said.

    “It is not rocket science; this is called copy and paste. Once the immigration process is seamless, business will always improve. We must understand the principle of simplification of responsibilities. And this is what we are trying to do,” Tunji-Ojo said.

    The minister also said that by February, the government will deploy what he called smart kits and e-gates in the airports for a seamless immigration service.

    He said: “I cannot as a foreigner get to Frankfurt and face immigration drilling and get to my own country and immigration will say, ‘wetin you bring come’.

    “When you get to the airport, scan your passport with your fingerprint to be sure you are not carrying another person’s document; you enter because by law no government official has the right to deny a Nigerian entry to this country. It is your right, so why make it complicated?

     

    “What we are doing now, which will be effective by February, is the advanced passenger information system. What that does is that as you are coming into the country, the immigration service has your record ahead, so they do prior profiling like they do in other countries. So when you get there, if you have any issues, you are flagged automatically and that is because they have done background checks.”

     

    Set to intensify controls at borders

    He said the reforms will also include intensified plans to mitigate the challenge of internal security through border control as a country that cannot evaluate the inflow/outflow of people is prone to insecurity.

    Tunji-Ojo said: “A safe border is a safe nation, a safe nation is a safe universe, if you cannot secure your borders, the police, the military, and other security agencies will be under pressure. The ability to control your border will reduce insecurities by more than 70 percent.”

    The minister said there is a need to pay attention to border communities “as we need their support and cooperation to guarantee safety”.

    He said there’s a need for an identity management system that involves setting up a party to harmonise the database of citizens to a single point of contact that every service provider or agency can plug in as there is no need for proliferation.

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    BREAKING NEWS: UAE Considering Slashing Visa/DVN Fees for Nigerians

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    BREAKING NEWS: UAE Considering Slashing Visa/DVN Fees for Nigerians

    On October 21, 2022, the UAE government announced a ban on 20 African countries, including Nigeria.

    However, on July 15, 2024, Nigeria’s Information Minister, Mohammed Idris, announced that the ban “had been lifted following a mutually beneficial discussion” between Nigeria and the UAE.

     

    Also read: Nigeria, UAE to Strengthen Partnership, Collaboration

     

    Since this announcement, there has been a frenzy of information activities in the media.

     

    Visa Fees and Banking Requirements:

    Changes are imminent and reveal a source close to the UAE. Following the recent lifting of the visa ban, the UAE imposed more controls on the visa process, requiring document verification to ensure the authenticity of documents submitted by applicants.

    The Document Verification Number (DVN) fee was structured at 640,000 NGN by the website managing the DVN process, documentverificationhub.ae. Additionally, a bank balance of 15 million naira was requested as a precondition to obtain a visa.

    These stringent fees and banking requirements have caused significant concern and backlash among Nigerian travellers and stakeholders.

     

    Potential Review and Reduction of Fees:

    In response to the widespread concern, the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) requested through official channels that the UAE reconsider these fees.

    However, only the UAE has the power to lower these stringent conditions, something the Nigerian government has been actively pushing for.

    Sources close to the UAE have revealed that a new and revised rate for DVN and the bank balance requirement is imminent. This potential review aims to make it more affordable for Nigerians to visit the UAE for tourism, business, and family visits.

    The FG’s efforts appear to have been successful, with several sources confirming that the UAE is seriously considering revising the fee structure.

     

    Impact on Nigerian Travelers:

    A reduction in DVN and visa fees would alleviate the financial burden on Nigerian travellers, making it easier for them to visit the UAE. This move is expected to foster stronger ties between the two nations, encouraging more tourism, business engagements, and cultural exchanges.

    Lowering the fees would likely increase the number of Nigerian visitors to the UAE, boosting tourism and economic activities. It would also provide an opportunity for more Nigerians to explore business and investment opportunities in the UAE.

     

    Timeline and Implementation:

    Although the exact timeline for the fee reduction has not been announced, changes are anticipated soon.

    Detailed guidelines and updated fee structures are expected following the review.

    The potential reduction of visa and DVN fees underscores the UAE’s commitment to maintaining strong bilateral relations with Nigeria.

    This development signifies a positive step towards more inclusive and affordable travel policies, benefiting Nigerian citizens and enhancing diplomatic ties.

    The DVN will improve Nigeria’s image in the UAE, hoping that more credible people will be able to travel & do business in UAE with ease and remove negative perception from the few Nigerians involved in crime

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    Nigeria, UAE to Strengthen Partnership, Collaboration

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    Nigeria, UAE to Strengthen Partnership, Collaboration

    Plans are underway to further strengthen areas of partnership and collaboration between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

    This was revealed during the visit of the Chairman/CEO, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa to the Embassy of UAE in Abuja, following the removal of the visa ban by placed on Nigeria by the Arab country.

    Dabiri-Erewa who was received by the UAE Ambassador to Nigeria, Salem Saeed Al-Shamsi, stated that NiDCOM intends to engage and sensitise Nigerians in the UAE to be good ambassadors of their country of stay and country of origin, to excel in whatever they are doing and never to forget home.

    She added further “this initiative aims to foster better understanding and compliance with local regulations,” while disclosing that 190 Nigerians were repatriated to Nigeria, with an additional 250 expected to return soon.

    She said the actions of individuals in a host country could greatly impact the overall image of their home country, noting that the role of Western media imperialism in perpetuating negative stereotypes about Nigerians.

    The UAE Envoy on his part, explained that the visa ban on Nigeria has been officially lifted.

    He confirmed that the Visa on Arrival policy has been canceled for all countries, but assured that the new procedures are designed to facilitate tourism and ensure travelers’ safe return.

    The Ambassador expressed his commitment to providing the best possible services for Nigerians, with the support of the determined Nigerian government.

    He also acknowledged the UAE’s role in safely repatriating 96 Nigerians at no cost.

    Marking his one-year anniversary as the UAE Ambassador to Nigeria, Al-Shamsi shared his positive impressions of Nigeria, describing it as a beautiful country with warm-hearted people who share similar cultural, religious, and ethnic backgrounds with the UAE.

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    UAE to Resume Issuance of Visas to Nigerians from Today—FG

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    BREAKING NEWS: UAE Considering Slashing Visa/DVN Fees for Nigerians

    The federal government has disclosed that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has agreed to lift the travel ban on Nigerians from Monday, July 15, 2024.

    The Minister of Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mr Mohammed Idris, told State House correspondents in Abuja today that both nations reached an agreement to allow Nigerian passport holders to obtain visas for travel to the country.

    Recall that about two years ago, the government of UAE suspended visa issuance to Nigerians following a period of protracted diplomatic row.

    Last year, the Special Adviser to President Bola Tinubu on Media and Publicity, Mr Ajuri Ngelale, claimed that the travel ban was lifted until the Arab nation denied it.

    A few months ago, the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr Festus Keyamo, said efforts were being made to resolve the issues and ensure Emirates Airline resumes flight operations in Nigeria.

    It was stated that the Emirates would resume the Lagos-Dubai flights from October 1, 2024.

    Ahead of this scheduled flight resumption, Mr Idris said Nigerians with the green passport would now be issued visas by the UAE government.

    The Information Minister made the announcement after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting held on Monday at the Presidential Villa.

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