…Hosts Gambia Immigration Department
By Angela Nkwocha
In a bid to ensure transparency and trace indices of corrupt practices as well as track defaulting and contract breaching contractors in line with the current administration’s zero tolerance for corruption, the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Muhammad Babandede, at its headquaters in Abuja, invited the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, (ICPC), as external observer, to ensure compliance with all contracts and projects awarded in 2019 /2020 with senior officers drawn from the Service Headquarters, Zones and Commands of the NIS on a validation brief of completed, on-going and review of abandon projects to ascertain level of work undertaken by contractors terms.
The NIS boss who said the validation meeting commenced in 2017 under his administration is conducting the third meeting aimed at encouraging transparency and to rob minds together with senior officers to determine suitable projects for the current year in line with its budget.
“The idea is to encourage transparency that is why we kept on inviting ICPC to set this as a model for other agencies. What we are doing is simple, I cannot be everywhere but you represent the Controller General at the zonal level. We did a lot of projects in 2018 and 2019 and I think NIS is very lucky to have projects it has never seen before”, he said.
The CGI advised them to always ensure strict supervision of projects under their commands to ensure perfect and cost effective projects executed and to report defaulting contractors for proper sanctioning where and when necessary.
He averred that this has helped the NIS to witness massive infrastructural developments that is spread around the country and all geographical locations in a manner that is transparent and proportional in view of the needs and availability of facilities for executing such projects.
While fileing questions from journalists on the issue of Visa on Arrival he emphasized that the increase in the number of Visas from 6 to 79 is to enable appropriate endorsement based on request and to cover wide range of professions, skills, and areas of expertise and a platform for reciprocating in line with Diplomatic practices globally and ensuring Security, Economic prosperity, and Transparency in governance.
Addressing the fears exercised by Nigerians on whether the visa on Arrival will give room to unwanted elements finding their way into the country, the CGI was quick to note that the Visa is not free, as payment is done online, and biometric capture is carried out at the point of issuance and due diligence is observed in a manner that will not compromise national security and in line with International best practices.
He added that the Nigerian government approved the Nigeria Visa policy 2020 in collaboration with MDAs relating with Diplomacy, trade, investment, education, tourism, finance, manufacturing, security and intelligence. “Without doubt the new visa policy is the most comprehensive government policy that will ease Immigration related issues both for Nigerians and Non-Nigerians and to attract foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and Economic Recovery and Growth Plan 2017-2020 for the administration”, he said.
He further explained that the Implementation plan for the Nigeria Visa policy 2020 is robust considering deployment of trained personnel, equipments and will power to achieve the best for the country. Stressing that Visa on arrival is not new but has been improved upon for the sake of transparency.
“visa is just a permit to come to the border and not a right of entering if the visa is fake, and if your reason of coming is not true you will be denied entry. The visa that is picked at the point of entry at the airport has biometric and takes your photographs. The new visa policy launched by Mr President is based on transforming the system and for national security and to reduce contact between officers and the applicant. Visa on arrival for business men can be applied online by logging unto www.immigration.gov.ng they can pay and get approval online and pick up letter of approval at the airport. Security is key if you look at the indices of the new visa policy”, he said.
On issues concerning border drill he said the act is not against any country but for the security of the nation and that of the sub region, which ensures you must cross get into the country in line with ECOWAS guide line with a travel document and through a recognized point of entry. The ICPC was represented by its Head of Intelligence and Monitoring, Mr Lawrence Abuo.
In another development the service received the officials of the Gambia Immigration Department led by the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Interior, Gambia, Moussier Assan Tangara and the Director General Gambia Immigration Department represented by the Commissioner Processing Ms Olimatou Jammeh, Assistant Inspector General of the Gambia Police Moussier Ebrima Bah amongst others.
Tangara said that they are in Nigeria to share common interest and appreciate the Reforms embarked upon by the Nigeria Immigration Service, in the same vein the representative of the Director General Ms Olumatou noted the contribution of the Nigeria Immigration Service to the training of the first cop of Gambian Immigration officers, all of who have contributed immensely to the growth and development of the Gambia.
Ms Olimatou said the study tour is symbolic and historic on the grounds of mutual and bilateral relationships between the two which necessitated reconsidering, revitalising the existing good relationship and especially as a leading service in the implementation of the modern migration management and the Integrated Border Management and Control in which Nigeria is the first country to implement and operationalize it.
He said that they are looking forward to learning more about skills that will enhance the competence of the officers in areas like Border Management Information System, Cross-Border engagement strategies, border security and control among others.
Babandede assured the team of a very good stay in Nigeria during the study tour and advised the participants to stay focus and share ideas with their colleagues during the interractive sessions to benefit from each other’s wealth of experience and knowledge.