The Federal Executive Council on Wednesday approved a new visa regime set up for the country with a view to meeting emerging travel realities in the world.
The council took the decision on the strength of recommendations by a committee established by the Federal Ministry of Interior.
Addressing State House Correspondents at the close of the meeting, Minister of Information backed by the Minister of Interior, Abba Moro and the Minister of Health, Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu stated the council also approved over $1.3 million for the implementation of Regulatory and Business Practices Improvement and Information Management (E-NHIS) Project for the National Health Insurance Scheme.
The Information Minister said that the resolution of the Federal Government to start a new visa regime was due to the high unemployment rate amongst the youth.
Maku said: “When youths are not productively engaged, internal security threats and social discontents become more pronounced. The new visa policy will boost tourism, attract targeted foreign direct investment, create employment opportunities, attract skilled migrant workers and keep the national boundaries more secured”
Minister of Interior, Abba Moro said, “The new visa regime has been approved today by the Federal Executive Council. The assumption and dynamics on the basis of which we had our old policy have changed in line with the realities of our time. Most significantly is the fact that we have been in recent time witnessing security challenges in our country and it becomes necessary that we must attack the problem from all sides and the way you enter and get out of Nigeria constitute a very vital component of fighting internal security.
“So today, we have a new visa regime that contains some innovations in the sense that new elements are being introduced in line with the strategic interest of Nigeria and of course most other areas still have to be based on the principle of reciprocity. We have a visa policy in place now that is targeted at boosting tourism, attracting foreign direct investments, opening up the economy for employment opportunities and above all, a policy that seeks to secure our borders.
“We now have visa at entry point. So, if a businessman, a tourist or a business delegation or a government delegation has reason to visit Nigeria at short notice to do business with Nigeria and if by any coincidence we don’t have embassy in such country, such delegation or group can come to Nigeria and obtain their visas at port of entry particularly at international airports.
Of course, this is without prejudice to ensuring our internal security”.
Listing the type of visas the country now have, the minister said, “We have short stay visa, long term visa up to 10 years, we have temporary stay visa, we have permanent resident visa and of course a new introduction now is that we have investment or skill transfer visa category. In this case, if you have a particular level of investment you want to make in Nigeria that can add value to the economy of the country you can be given certain category of visa.
“In conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Labour, if we classify certain skills as valuable to Nigeria that will don’t have here then we can on the basis of such skills grant you visa. By and large, with the approval of this new visa regime for Nigeria we hope that we will be able to attract more foreign investments to Nigeria. It is our hope that with this new visa regime we would have been able to effectively take care of certain aspects of the problems that Nigeria encounters today”.
Minister of Health, Chukwu brought a memo before council seeking the implementation of Regulatory and Business Practices Improvement and Information Management (E-NHIS) Project for the National Health Insurance Scheme.
The project, the minister said, is aimed at establishing a regulatory platform for the National Health Insurance Scheme in terms of communication with all relevant agencies and other stakeholders.
“It is an e-platform to make the scheme more efficient. The cost of the scheme is being shared between the FG, World Bank and the international finance corporation. That it is part of the e-governance system. Agric, education and health are pilot government agencies for e-governance programme. It will improve speed of business, documentation and regulation by the NHIS”, he said.
Council also approved contract for the overhaul and rehabilitation of GT-7 component of the Ogheli power plant in Delta State in the of $11.4 million plus N90 million.
Maku said, while some units of the power plant had been down recently, it will deliver 100mgwatt of electricity to the national grid after the rehabilitation which has a completion period of 90 days.