Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama has said that the federal government is optimistic that the United States will soon lift onerous visa restrictions slapped on Africa’s most populous country.
Speaking with reporters after a meeting with the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, on Tuesday in Washington, Onyeama said he sought more information on President Donald Trump’s latest immigration crackdown announced last week which targeted Nigeria and five other countries.
Onyeama said his talks were “very gratifying” but acknowledged, with a smile, that Trump’s move caught Nigeria off-guard.
“We were somewhat blindsided by the announcement of the visa restrictions,” Onyeama said.
He said that Nigeria had already been looking to address US concerns, such as providing information on suspected terrorists and embedding electronic data into passports.
“We know, and the US officials have also confirmed, that we have been able to tick most of those boxes,” he said.
The lingering problem, he said, involved how to handle lost and stolen Nigerian passports.
Onyeama said Nigeria was putting in place a system that would make data from such passports “immediately available” to all members of Interpol, the global law enforcement body.
“We hope to have that up and running very soon,” he said. “Hopefully, once that has been achieved, we look forward to being taken off this visa restriction list.”
Also speaking, Pompeo told Onyeama that Trump took action partly due to the “terrorist threat” in West Africa, where Nigeria has fought alongside the United States against Islamist extremists.
He said Nigeria remains a “strategic partner” but Trump restricted visas as it has “room to grow in sharing important national security information.”
“I’m optimistic that’s going to happen,” Pompeo told reporters.
Trump came to office vowing to impose border restrictions and notoriously was quoted as using a vulgar epithet for African and other developing nations that send immigrants to the United States.
Unlike a controversial order days after he took office that essentially banned entry to citizens from a number of Muslim-majority countries, the latest restrictions primarily involve foreigners who seek to immigrate rather than visit.
Along with Nigeria, Trump imposed the curbs on nationals from Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Sudan and Tanzania.
. US Visa Ban: Onyeama Optimistic Of Review After Meeting Pompeo Follow Concise News.