A member of the House of Representatives, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa has described the £3,000 visa bond being proposed by the United Kingdom as ridiculous. She said Nigeria must reciprocate the policy with more stringent conditions.
A Financial Times report on July 28, 2013, had quoted the Home Office as saying Britain would commence the scheme in six Commonwealth countries considered to be the source of “high risk” tourists to the UK in November.
The countries, which were announced in June, are Nigeria, India, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Some visitors from the six countries, which accounted for more than half a million visa applications in 2012, will be asked to pay a £3,000 cash bond in return for visitors to stay in the UK for up to six months under the scheme.
In an online interview with our correspondent on Friday, the Chairman, House Committee on Diaspora Affairs, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said travellers from Nigeria contributed a huge sum of money into the British economy.
She said, “I think it’s ridiculous. I know why they’re saying it will only affect a small percentage of ‘high risk’ Nigerians. But, who defines these criteria?”
While saying that “we are overly significant to their economy,” she gave examples of the large number of Nigerians who fly British Airways monthly; the tuition fees they pay into the UK institutions; and between £15,000 and £45,000 they spend annually as UK visa fees.
Dabiri-Erewa noted that these were aside the numerous UK business relations with Nigeria.
She said, “Nigeria must not only bark, it must bite. The principle of reciprocity must be applied, and even more can be done. It doesn’t matter our circumstances as a nation today. Yes, we have challenges, but that is not a reason for Britain to treat us this way. If Nigeria does not stand firm on this, it would be a shame to our nation and our people
“This discrimination must be resisted totally,” she stated.
The House of Representatives’ position on the bond tallies with the Federal Government’s, which on Tuesday insisted on retaliatory action against British citizens, if the UK government went ahead with its plan.
It said it had not been officially communicated on the commencement of the policy.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru, had at a meeting with the British High Commissioner, Andrew Pocock, conveyed the desire of Nigeria to retaliate the policy.
The spokesperson for the ministry, Ogbole Ode, in a statement in Abuja, said the British authorities were already aware of the Federal Government’s position on the matter.
When contacted last week, the spokesman for the British High Commission in Abuja, Rob Fitzpatrick, had said, “No final decision has been made” on the controversial policy.
CULLED FROM PUNCH NEWSPAPER