Delay in visa issuance: We’ll retaliate, FG warns Countries

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President Mohammed Buhari

…As FG targets 100% Nigerian Content in 2027***

The Interior Minister, Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (rtd) has warned that Nigeria would no longer tolerate delay in issuance of visas to its nationals from any country.

The minister stated this on Monday in Abuja at a meeting with the Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, to resolve some of the issues militating against visa issuance.

The meeting also had in attendance, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami and the Comptroller-General of Immigration, Mohammed Babandede.

Dambazau said that the delay in the issuance of visas to Nigerians was becoming an embarrassment and must be resolved.

“It is embarrassing that one will want visa and will have unnecessary delay from the issuance countries.

“We as a country needs to take our stand; we should deal with any country the way they deal with us on visa issuance.

“They should not think that we need them more than they need us,” he said.

Babandede, at the end of the meeting also corroborated Minister of Interior’s stand on the issue.

He said, “What we are saying is that we as a country, we would also like to retaliate.

“Anybody who delays visa for our nationals, we would also do the same as a country because we have a pride as a nation.”

The Comptroller-General, however, said that Nigeria was committed to ensuring that business was done normally with friends of the country.

“We are committed to issue visa on time and passport to our nationals wherever they are.”

Earlier, Onyeama said that the meeting was to enhance ease of doing business in the country.

He, however, noted that the nation was still having challenges regarding consular services.

Onyeama said the parley was to see how in conjunction with sister ministries, the nation could find solutions to the challenges.

“As part of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council, the issue, as you know, some of the deliverables are there and it is for consular services that we also have to work hard together.

“So, we have always felt that we should all try and be speaking to each other.

“The Ministry of Interior, Immigration Services and ourselves, our embassies and missions and consulates are all working other one roof,” he said.

In the meantime, the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) has been tasked to ensure that the Nigerian oil and gas industry is able to produce all its needs by year 2027, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu has directed.

The Minister set the target in Owerri, Imo State at the just concluded Nigerian Content Workshop organised by New Planets Projects in conjunction with the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources Upstream.

He said the Federal Government expects that over the next 10 years, the Nigeria oil and gas industry, in collaboration with foreign investors would have developed in-country capacities and capabilities to produce all its offshore platforms locally. “I would like to see the Japanese coming; I would like to see the Koreans come here; I would like to see collaborative efforts that will make our oil industry produce everything that we need,” he said he acknowledged the giant strides made by the Board in seven years, commending particularly the achievements of the current Executive Secretary, Engr. Simbi Wabote, whom he credited for working with energy and passion and meeting several targets set for the Board in the past one year.

Noting that the Nigerian Content achievement in engineering services had hit 80 percent, the Minister insisted that performance in offshore aspects of the industry was still substantially low and charged international and local operating oil companies to collaborate with NCDMB in achieving the new target.

Kachikwu, described Nigerian Content as the future of the industry, adding that: “It doesn’t matter how much money we make, how much gas we produce or alternative fossils we produce; if we do not ensure that a lot of that is captured locally in terms of benefits, we have no stake.”

Commenting on NCDMB’s strategies for addressing noncompliance with provisions of the Nigerian Content Act by some companies, the Minister said the focus should not be on identifying defaulters and penalizing them. According to him, NCDMB should develop corrective measures and understand why some companies fail to comply.

“The Board needs to develop corrective visitation programmes to institutions that have not complied. Sit down with them and do an audit of the issues and jointly develop models, giving specific timelines for delivery and create incentives for those who comply and penalties for those who blatantly refuse to comply,” the minister said.

On industry’s capacity building initiatives, the Minister directed NCDMB, the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) and the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI) to collaborate and develop a plan for training youths who are involved in pipeline vandalism, illegal refining and other illicit activities in the oil and gas industry.

The training programme will focus on improving their skillsets and getting them to embrace productive activities. He said, “We need to find a middle-level specialized system of training people in the oil industry, a system that is not necessarily tied to degrees. We need to capture a lot of those in the hinterlands who have finished WAEC or their first diploma and don’t know where to go to but have some unique skillsets.

We need to bring them to finishing schools.” Kachikwu also directed the NCDMB, PTDF and PTI to use existing industry facilities in Port Harcourt and Kaduna to carry out the planned trainings and other capacity building programmes for industry stakeholders, adding that: ”we have to provide local competency trainings, relying on support from oil companies in terms of investment and overseas faculty.”

Additional report from Vanguard