Nigeria has started issuing biometric visa, the first in Africa, designed to effectively block many people that would not needed to enter the country.
The introduction of biometric visa was announced by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Interior, Mr Abubakar Magaji, at the 2017 End-of-Year Dinner and Award Night of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) in Abuja on Monday.
He represented the Minister of Interior, Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (rtd), at the occasion.
“You have made us proud because at this moment, Nigeria is the only country in Africa that is issuing biometric visa.
“It started this year, but we have already launched it. I know the biometric visa is going to block many people that we don’t want to come to Nigeria,” he said.
While urging the agency to do more in the coming year, Magaji assured it of the continued support of the ministry, which supervises the NIS.
Reeling out other achievements of the NIS, Chairperson of the event planning committee, Mrs Edith Onyemenam, said it was one of the first federal agencies to implement the Presidential Executive Orders issued earlier in the year.
Onyemenam, a Comptroller of Immigration, said the NIS was also the first agency to be awarded the Presidential Impact Award in recognition of its contribution to the country’s ease of doing business.
She said the introduction of online pre-approval for Visa on Arrival, contributed greatly to the country’s improvement in the World Bank’s ease of doing business ranking from 169th to 145th position.
In his address, the Comptroller-General of Immigration, Mr Mohammed Babandede, described 2017 as a wonder year for the NIS.
“We achieved a lot not because I am the best or that I can work hard. Neither was it because I am intelligent. It is because I am lucky to have a good team.
“We have done the best training this year that has never been done in the history of Immigration service.
“We have trained officers in every training institution. I think we will do more,” Babandede said.
He congratulated the award recipients, who he said were selected through a transparent process, and urged them to do more.
The NIS boss reemphasised the need for men and officers of the Service to diversify their sources of income through agriculture.
He said they were permitted by law to embark on agriculture as a business, adding that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development was willing to assist them.
Speaking in this vein, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Audu Ogbeh, urged the NIS staff to embark on farming to escape poverty and hunger in retirement.
“I used to be the chairman of a political party whose name I can’t remember now,” he said, drawing laughter from the audience.
“And I kept telling them that every officer in this country, especially politicians, should have a second address which, for you, is agriculture.
“The Constitution allows you to practise it. Please, get involved, I am talking from experience.
“The worst thing that can happen to you is to retire into hunger and poverty, idleness and early death.
“Stay active, go to your farm, keep busy and you will live long,” Ogbeh said.
The event featured music, cultural dance performances and comedy in a convivial atmosphere.
Several men and officers of the agency were honoured with different awards in recognition of their exceptional qualities and outstanding service.
Service chiefs and heads of paramilitary agencies, including the Nigeria Customs Service, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, were represented at the occasion.