US Visa Ban: We were Blindsided- Presidency
By Olamide Fadoju
Nigeria’s inclusion on the US travel ban list was a huge shock, the presidency says.
The White House, in a surprise announcement on January 31, barred Nigeria and five other countries from immigrant visas starting from February 22.
Nigeria's failure to adhere to security and information-sharing requirements was cited as a reason for the ban.
But the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Ajuri Ngelale told Nigeria Info 99.3 FM in an exclusive interview that the decision came as a surprise because efforts were already being made to comply with the requirements.
“We were blindsided by this because we have already had conversations with them and we were working on the issues with them, not in isolation and they still embarked on the ban.”
Ngelale further disclosed that the presidency is focused on reconciling the differences that caused the ban.
“It is very important to note that we are looking at a very constructive relationship that’s moving forward. We just had our binational meeting in Washington DC and it was at that meeting that Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo came out publicly and told the world that he is optimistic that the ban on Nigeria will soon be lifted as a result of our resolution on these issues. So really it’s a temporary storm.”
The Presidential Adviser denied accusations that the Federal Government didn’t do anything to prevent the ban as major steps had been taken beforehand.
“We have seen a series of enhancements to our Nigerian passports. We have been very clear about the new security enhancements we have put on the new passports.
“These were not done by accident. The reason we embarked on exercises like that was because we had these consultations with foreign administrations such as the US government where they raised concerns about lost and stolen passports and the ability of criminal enterprises and individuals to be able to use our old passports and reconfigure them and this is why we embarked on the enhancements that we went on”.