Nigeria’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, disclosed on Tuesday, February 4, 2020, that the West African country has begun working on the security and information-sharing requirements needed for Nigeria to be removed from the United States travel ban.
Speaking at a state visit in Washington with U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, Onyeama said that Nigeria was “somewhat blindsided with the announcement of the visa restrictions by the U.S.” However, after speaking with U.S. officials, Onyeama claims he understands more clearly the reasoning behind the travel ban.
The top diplomat from Nigeria said, “we’ve identified all those requirements and we have actually started working on all them.” Onyeama said that efforts are being made to directly share personal data — including immigrants’ criminal histories, stolen passport information and suspected links to terrorism — with the United States and Interpol member countries.
In response, Secretary of State Pompeo said, “Nigeria has room to grow in sharing important national security information.” He also added that he is “optimistic” that Abuja would move in that direction.
Subsequently, on Wednesday, January 5, 2020, Nigeria’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isah Pantami directed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to establish a new policy. This policy states that the acquisition of a National Identity Number (NIN) will be a compulsory requirement for the registration of new SIM cards in the country.
This new policy inevitably encourages the drive of data acquisition in the country and is in line with the requirements required to uplift the travel ban against Nigeria. Onyeama affirmed that once all the necessary demands are met, the country looks forward to being taken off the visa restriction list, although he did not give a specific time frame.
With the addition of Nigeria to its list, the Trump administration’s travel restrictions will affect nearly a quarter of the 1.2 billion people in Africa, according to the Center for Global Development. Immigrants from Eritrea, Sudan, Kyrgyzstan, and Myanmar will be affected by the new travel ban which will take effect on February 22, 2020.