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UK Applications for Nigerian Visas ‘on the Rise’

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UK Applications for Nigerian Visas ‘on the Rise’

Post  Admin on Mon Mar 02, 2009 6:55 pm

Despite the negative perception of Nigeria abroad, there has been a steady increase in the number of applications for Nigerian visas at the country’s High Commission in the United Kingdom.
Nigeria’s High Commis-sioner to the UK, Dr. Dalhatu Tafida, informed THISDAY in London at the weekend that there has been “a noticeable rise in the number of British nationals applying for entry visa as well as permits to come and work in the country”.
The British government has consistently issued a negative travel advisory on Nigeria to its citizens owing to what it calls “insecurity”, especially because of the kidnappings in the Niger Delta.
In the last four years, 42 British nationals working in the oil industry have been kidnapped in the oil-producing region by militants agitating for greater control of the resources of the region, which supplies Nigeria with over 80 per cent of its budgetary revenues.
Nigeria also suffers from image problems in the UK as a result of drug trafficking, credit card fraud, identity theft, general immigration offences and the advance fee fraud, otherwise known as “419” perpetrated by some Nigerians.
“Nigeria remains a very important country to the United Kingdom despite all these negative developments,” the High Commissioner, who assumed office at the mission April last year, said. “The fact that more and more British citizens are applying for work permits and visitor visas is an indication of this. The trend is increasing.”
The High Commissioner said between 100 and 250 visas are granted daily, while in 2008, 950 subject-to-regularisation (STR) work visas were issued and 1030 temporary work permits (TWP) were also granted to British nationals.
Tafida said Nigeria is the second largest African market for the country’s former colonial masters, coming next to South Africa which is regarded as the continent’s most successful nation.
“Nigeria is Britain’s 34th largest overseas market and the second largest in Africa after South Africa. UK exports of goods to Nigeria were worth £1.013 billion in 2007 and £882 million in services in the same year. UK investments in Nigeria are estimated at about £1 billion,” the former Senator revealed, although he said comparable statistics of Nigeria’s exports to the UK are not available “but crude oil remains the major export item aside from commodities. In fact, Britain accounts for 5.7 per cent of Nigeria’s external trade.”
The governor of Bayelsa State, Mr. Timi Sylva, had threatened last Thursday at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatam House, London, that he would no longer honour invitations by the British government to discuss the Niger Delta if it continued to issues travel warnings against the region despite all efforts Nigeria was making to contain militant activities.
Rivers State Governor Chibuike Amaechi, who was at the forum along with Delta State Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, said he had decided against attending any event relating to the Niger Delta which is held in Lagos or Abuja or anywhere outside the oil-producing region in protest against the negative portray of the region “despite all our efforts to put security in place”.
Meanwhile, Tafida also informed THISDAY that as part of efforts to strengthen Nigeria’s mission in the UK, he has taken steps to make the Consular Section more active and responsive to the need of Nigerians.
“One of the things the section has done recently is to visit Nigerians in British prisons and counsel them,” he said. “The response was wonderful. Many of the prisoners were crying, saying that was the first time the government of Nigeria was showing any interest in their plight.”
He said the number of Nigerians in prisons had reduced dramatically, from 1,461 last year to 887 this year. There are between two and three million Nigerians living in the UK.
“This is a significant development,” he said, although he admitted that he was not too sure what was responsible for the drop—whether they had completed their prison terms, were given parole or crimes committed by Nigerians had actually reduced.
Tafida also said Nigeria was in the process of signing a prisoner exchange agreement with the UK. This would enable Nigerian prisoners to come and serve their terms in Nigeria, likewise for British prisoners in Nigeria..


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