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General News of Friday, 19 November 2021

Source: mynewsgh.com

Why sign visa-free deal with Ghana but Nigerians find it difficult to enter UAE – Nigerian lawmakers fight UAE

Nigerian lawmakers Nigerian lawmakers

Lawmakers in Nigeria are up in arms against the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for among other things treating Nigerian citizens with disrespect following a row. The Lawmakers have drawn a comparison with how the UAE treats Ghana as against Nigeria with regards to visa issuances and diplomatic agreements.

Nigeria’s House of Representatives expressed concern over the alleged planned deportation of Nigerians in the UAE following a diplomatic disagreement.

Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu, (a brother of Tony Elumelu) in a motion of urgent public importance, wondered why Ghana would be granted visa-free entry into the UAE while Nigerians find it difficult to access the country even with genuine visas and are being disgraced.

This development follows a disagreement between Nigeria and the UAE in February 2021, when Nigeria stopped the UAE national carrier, Emirates Airline, from subjecting Nigerian travellers to additional (COVID-19) rapid antigen tests, as against its stipulated negative PCR tests at the Lagos and Abuja airports before departure.

Emirates Airline, thereafter, shut down flights to and from Nigeria. After rounds of talks, flights resumed but Emirates continued to conduct tests on Nigeria’s passengers before departures, a development the Nigerian Government frowned on and consequently suspended the airline from flying to and from Nigeria once again.

In discussing the matter in Nigeria’s law-making house with a view to solve the matter, Nigerian lawmakers raised concern over allegations that hundreds of Nigerians living legally in the UAE were losing their jobs on account of refusal by the UAE authorities to renew their work permits.

Nigeria’s House of Representatives expressed concern over an alleged planned deportation of Nigerians in the UAE.

Ghana-UAE Visa waiver

In August this year, Parliament of Ghana by a resolution, approved a Visa Waiver Agreement with the Government of Ghana and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in respect of diplomatic, service/special and ordinary passport holders on Thursday August 05, 2021.

This follows the adoption of the Foreign Affairs Committee Report on the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the government, represented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration and the UAE on mutual exemption of entry visa requirements in respect of diplomatic, service/special and ordinary passport holders.

The MOU is restricted to holders of diplomatic and other official passports which categories are noted to be easy to manage given the fact that their holders are often public officials whose background and conducts are within the purview of the public and state security apparatus.

The Agreement was executed on 18th November 2019 with the object of waiving the visa requirements for these particular passport holders in Ghana and the UAE before entering into each other’s territories where they can stay for a period not exceeding ninety days.

The Memorandum of Understanding on the exemption of visa requirements between the two countries was presented to the House on 26th May this year by the Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchway.

The Rt. Hon. Speaker Alban Sumana K. Bagbin subsequently referred the Agreement to the Committee on Foreign Affairs for consideration and report in accordance with Order 140(4) and 183 of the Standing Orders of the House.

Presenting its Report on the floor of the House, Chairman of the Committee Bryan Acheampong indicated that Ghana has had fruitful co-operation with the UAE and is desirous of deepening this relation and facilitate improved interactions between Ghanaian citizens and officials and those of the United Arab Emirates.

He pointed out that the Agreement which constitutes a comprehensive framework on visa regimes for both countries accordingly made provisions to cover the diplomatic, service, and ordinary passports for nationals of both countries. Besides, he added, the Agreement did not impose obligations on the two parties to admit people who are considered to be of questionable character into their territories, neither did it impose any financial obligation on the two parties while neither country will obtain direct financial gains from their implementation.

It has been fashioned in a way as to create a win-win situation for both parties as they open up their countries to each other and the resultant relaxed entry requirements is expected to yield tremendous benefits to their citizens through improved relations, trade and bilateral co-operation, he emphasized.

On the issue of justification, the Committee said visa waiver arrangements are common and intended to facilitate the movement of diplomats and government officials between states for official purposes and demonstrative of mutual trust and cooperation between the two counties.

The House however recommended that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, pursuant to the adoption of the MOU, should work hard to ensure that Ghana’s official passport processing system is improved and made devoid of all manipulations.

It further urged the Minister to engage her counterparts from the Emirates to make similar guarantees to facilitate the possible roll-out of the facility to the entire mass of nationals in the UAE to cement the friendly bilateral relations that exist between the two countries.

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