Nigerian President Bola Tinubu has reached a deal with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to lift the visa ban it placed on Nigerians, according to a statement issued by the presidency.
The statement titled: “President Tinubu secures landmark deal with United Arab Emirates across sectors; visa ban on Nigerian travelers is lifted immediately” and was signed by Chief Ajuri Ngelale, Special Adviser to the President on Media & Publicity, said that Tinubu and the President of the UAE, Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, on Monday in Abu Dhabi, finalized the historic agreement.
It disclosed that the agreement “has resulted in the immediate cessation of the visa ban placed on Nigerian travelers.”
It could be recalled that the UAE stopped issuing visas to Nigerians late last year, following a series of issues involving Nigerians living in the oil-rich country, with some resulting in diplomatic interventions.
The UAE’s total visa ban follows earlier rules restricting visa issuance to Nigerians under the age of 40. A statement issued by the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs last September said some Nigerians “were denied entry and advised to return to their country and apply for the appropriate visas” because they ignored the rules.
Other issues, including the failure of Emirates Airlines to repatriate its trapped fund – which resulted in the company’s decision to suspend its operation in Nigeria, contributed to the dented relationship between Nigeria and the UAE.
On Sunday, Ngelale announced that Tinubu will meet with the leadership of the UAE during a technical stopover in Abu Dhabi, UAE, after the President’s departure from New Delhi, India.
The presidential spokesperson said the meeting will serve as a follow-up discussion to address specific, salient issues within the bilateral relationship after conversations held during a recent visit by the UAE Ambassador to the President at the State House in Abuja.
“The President is to address lingering bilateral issues while maximizing the opportunity of the stopover to equally advance his investment promotion objectives with high-level authorities in the public and private sectors of the United Arab Emirates,” he said.
Ngelale added that besides lifting the visa ban, the historic agreement has enabled both Etihad Airlines and Emirates Airlines to immediately resume flight schedules into and out of Nigeria, without any further delay.
“As negotiated between the two Heads of State, this immediate restoration of flight activity, through these two airlines and between the two countries, does not involve any immediate payment by the Nigerian government,” he said.
In addition, presidents Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Tinubu established an agreed framework, which will involve several billions of U.S. dollars worth of new investments into the Nigerian economy across multiple sectors, including defense, agriculture, and others, by the investment arms of the Government of the United Arab Emirates, according to the statement.
“Additionally, President Tinubu is pleased to have successfully negotiated a joint, new foreign exchange liquidity programme between the two Governments, which will be announced in detail in the coming weeks,” he said.