President Muhammadu Buhari has stated that Nigeria is progressing to reverse the United States suspension of the issuance of “immigrant visas” to Nigerian passport holders.
He stated this on Thursday in Abuja while receiving the report of the committee on Citizen Data Management and Harmonization headed by the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, expressing satisfaction that two out of the six areas of concern raised by the United States had been fully addressed.
e said: “I also note the progress made by Nigeria towards the removal of the visa restrictions as two out of the six areas of concern raised by the United States had been fully addressed, two are substantially satisfied while some progress is being made on the remaining two.
‘‘I am delighted that this progress, especially the uploading of Lost and Stolen Passport and Travel Documents has been acknowledged by the United States Government.”
The committee had also recommended the establishment of a National Criminal Information Management, fashioned after the INTERPOL model, and a National Criminal DNA Laboratory, to assist criminal investigation, administration of criminal justice as well as sharing of relevant information.
President Buhari agreed that the implementation of these and other recommendations as stated in the report will fully address all outstanding issues that led to the visa restrictions.
He said: ‘‘An effective Citizen Data Management System is critical for socio-economic planning, improved service delivery and good governance, as well as national and global security. It also has the over-arching benefit of enhancing integrity of the nation’s citizens’ identity instruments for the purpose of information sharing.
‘‘Accordingly, the Committee’s recommendations on the strategies for harmonizing existing databases, improving the infrastructure for the National Identity Database as well as a review of the supervisory mechanism of the National Identity Management Commission would be given serious consideration.
‘‘The implementation of the recommendations as estimated by the Committee would require enormous resources. In this regard, an Implementation Committee would be constituted to further study the recommendations and develop a workable implementation plan.”
He also assured of the governments’ desire to follow-up the removal of visa restrictions by America.
He said: “In consideration of the fact that the concerns raised cast doubts on the credibility of the nation’s citizen identity data management system, the scope of the Committee’s assignment was expanded to include strategies to harmonize the various citizen identity data held by different Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
“I have gone through the highlights of the Report and must commend the Chairman and members of the Committee for painstakingly carrying out the assignment in spite of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
‘‘The recommendations as highlighted are capable of addressing the concerns raised bythe US Government as well as lead to the development of a reliable national citizen identity data management system.”
Minister of Interior and Chairman of the Committee on Citizen Data Management and Harmonization, Aregbesola, while speaking, stated that the body was set up to review the visa restrictions imposed by the U.S and develop credible systems and processes that would curtail the security concerns raised.
“It is our hope that the findings, strategies and implementation plans proffered, if fully implemented, will expedite the lifting of the visa restrictions while bequeathing to the nation an enduring identity management system,” the Minister said.