Nigeria becomes first and only African country to issue biometric visas in bid to woo investors

NIGERIA has become the first and only African country to issue biometric visas to visitors following the introduction of the scheme this year as part of a government programme to woo foreign investors.


Proudly revealing this at the 2017 end-of-year dinner and award night of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) in Abuja, Abubakar Magaji, the permanent secretary in the Federal Ministry of Internal Affairs, said it is something the country should be very proud of. Mr Magaji, representing the minister, Lt General Abdulrahman Dambazau, at the occasion, said the biometric visa was one of the outstanding achievements of the NIS in 2017.


He added: “I want to congratulate the officers and men of the service, especially the awardees and to tell you that we are proud of you. You have done an excellent job this year and you have won an excellent award of the ease of doing business.


“You have made us proud because at this moment as Nigeria is the only country in Africa that is issuing biometric visa. It started this year but we have already launched it and I know the biometric visa is going to block many people that we don’t want to come to Nigeria.”


While urging the agency to do more in the coming year, Mr Magaji assured it of the continued support of the ministry, which supervises the NIS. Reeling out other achievements of the NIS, chairperson of the event planning committee, Mrs Edith Onyemenam, said it was one of the first federal agencies to implement the Presidential Executive Orders issued earlier in the year.


Mrs Onyemenam, a comptroller of immigration, said the NIS was also the first agency to be awarded the Presidential Impact Award in recognition of its contribution to the country’s ease of doing business. She said the introduction of online pre-approval for visa on arrival, contributed greatly to the country’s improvement in the World Bank’s ease of doing business ranking from 169th to 145th position.


Mohammed Babandede, the comptroller-general of immigration, added: “We achieved a lot not because I am the best or that I can work hard and neither was it because I am intelligent. It is because I am lucky to have a good team.


“I am glad to say that the immigration service has written its name in gold and we have been able to become one of the best. We have done the best training this year that has never been done in the history of the immigration service."


He congratulated the award recipients, who he said were selected through a transparent process, and urged them to do more. In addition, Mr Babandede reemphasised the need for men and officers of the service to diversify their sources of income through agriculture.