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PERSPECTIVE: Visa Bans And Sovereignty

PERSPECTIVE: Visa Bans And Sovereignty
  • PublishedMay 19, 2023



THE dishevelment of the post-colonial state is never ending, it goes on eternal. Decades after what can now be best described as “flag independence” nothing irks the political elite of the post-colony more than the prospect of being caged in into their own country. 

In the case of Nigeria’s political establishment in the light of recent events, it can be depicted as poetic justice. A few weeks ago, a bill was proposed which in effect will cage in medical doctors who were trained in Nigerian publicly funded universities for five years.

This is reminiscent of the exit visas used by the authoritarian regimes of yore to prevent an exodus of skilled workers and prevent political dissidents from migrating. Obviously, what is good for the goose is now problematic for the gander. The Nigerian elite do not want to be caged in deprived of the pleasures of “the abroad”.

This is why the colonial mindset has been disturbed by the decision of the American authorities to place a visa ban on those deemed to have had a negative or disruptive effect on the electoral process. 


In a statement on the US State Department website, Secretary of State Antony Binken said “the United States is committed to supporting and advancing democracy in Nigeria and around the world. Today, I am announcing that we have taken steps to impose visa restrictions on specific individuals in Nigeria for undermining the democratic process during Nigeria’s 2023 elections cycle.”

READ ALSO: FG Directs Implementation Of Five Years Visa Reciprocity Policy Between Nigeria, US

He clarified that the visa ban is specific to certain individuals and is not directed at the Nigerian people or the Government of Nigeria as a whole.

According to the statement, these individuals, under US Immigration and Nationality Act, will be subject to restrictions on visas to the United States under a policy covering those believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining democracy.

The methodology to be used to cage in the miscreants is not clear, nevertheless it has put some people in a pickle.

The visa ban as a moral sanction is not out of order and should not be interpreted in a self-serving way as an attack on the sovereignty of the state. 

It is a response to the inability of the Nigerian state to muster the political will to do the needful. And there were a lot of transgressions.  Reports from Premium Times and in the past few days from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) have produced startling evidence of all manner of malfeasance in Rivers State which was a key battleground state during the election.

The election petition tribunal has its work cut out to verify, however it means that the Nigerian State must answer inconvenient questions. Key here is the inability to set up an electoral offences tribunal. Not setting up the tribunal indicates an absence of deterrence. It means that every electoral cycle will be accomplished by mayhem, fear, loathing and gnashing of teeth. No state should accept this sort of framework.  

The Americans are now doing what the Nigerian state ought to have done which is a crying shame! Furthermore, this is just another example of a process been run without established consequences for misdeeds. This is why we have not passed a much needed “Unexplained Sources of Wealth Act”. Without such a mechanism, the elusive search of the EFCC will always be a classic case of bolting the stable doors after the horse has fled. 

No point in blaming the Americans, the fault lies in ourselves. Apart from the political sphere we have constructed a very uncompetitive state which is fast becoming irrelevant. This is regrettable.

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