By Suleiman Umaru
It is no longer news that Chad Wolf, the United States, US, Secretary for Home Land Security , on the orders of President Donald Trump, on Friday, February 1st, 2020, announced a travel ban , restricting immigrations from Nigeria, Eriterea, Sudan , and Tanzanian, all African countries and the Asian country of Myanmar, where the Muslim minority is fleeing genocide from applying for the country’s VISAs as it may no longer be approved.
Also affected in the expanded US travel ban was Kyrgyzstan, a former old Soviet Union state, thus, bringing the number of countries under the North American country travel ban to thirteen between 2017 and now.
Indeed, what makes it news is that hundreds of Nigerians who had trooped to the US embassy in Abuja and the Lagos Consulate office based on appointment with the officials were disappointed as they could not be attended to. There was even rumour making the rounds that David Oyedipo, the founder of the Megachu rch Terbanacle, Winners Church Chapel International based in Ota, Ogun state, was one of those prominent Nigerian religious leader who was allegedly denied VISA, forcing him to challenge the US Consulate officials but that was how far he could. He was forced to abandon the trip.
Not that the initial travel ban was only extended to citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Venezuela and North Korea. The travel ban , according to Diplomatic experts , will virtually block immigrations from Nigeria and Mynmar, which were said to have substantial muslim populations.
The US, 2020, travel ban, on citizens of Nigeria, particular, appears to have taken President Muhammadu Buhari by surprise as he was forced to set up a Committee, Headed by Rauf Aregbesola , a former governor of Osun state and now, minister of Interior, to study and address the updated US requirements for applying for the country’s VISA .
The Kastina state born Nigerian President may have appointed Areagbesola, to Head the Committee because Wolf, his counterpart in the US, Executive, was the person that broke the troubling news to the public.Given the importance attached to the Committee, the President was said to have given it the mandate to work closely with the American government , INTERPOL and other relevant stakeholders, to ensure that all updates are properly implemented.
Trump may have known the implication of imposing a blanket travel ban on Nigeria ,alongside the five other countries nationals being one of the biggest trading partners with Nigeria. This may have informed why the Home Land Security, which requested that those seeking for official, business, tourism and student travel VISAs, should be exempted, and it was promptly approved by the US Prsident.
Security watchers believe that the Opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP, may have given the US government the opportunity to impose the travel ban on Nigeria. The party had raised alarm that the country is in grave danger , urging the Katsina state born Nigerian President to resign for failing to secure the nation and thus, putting the country’s Democracy under threat’’.
The party had made matters worse for the country by submitting protest letter to the embassies of the US and the United Kingdom, UK, which were said to have reached the duo, Trump and Boris Johnson, Prime minister of Britain. Trump has been waiting to get reports about the security situation of the country from Abuja embassy and Lagos Consulate , in order to decide on what to do to protect its the security from terrorists that might want to penetrate the country from Nigeria. It was, therefore, not surprising that , when the opportunity came, he did not hesitate in imposing a temporary travel ban on Nigeria .
Femi Adesina, Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, alluded to the fact that the suspension of immigration VISAs to Nigeria nationals became necessary due to security related information sharing between Nigeria and the US government but could not go beyond that.
But the f US, Department of State, equivalent of Nigeria ministry of Foreign Affairs, had said that the country took the decision because Nigeria has failed to comply with the established identity –management and information sharing criteria assessed by its performance metrics, an indication that the security situation of the country had deteriorated.
Ali Ndume, a Senator of Federal Republic of Nigeria, representing Borno south Senatorial district and Chairman, Senate Committee, on Army , appear to have Collaborated the view of the US, Homeland Security, that the security situation in the north east Nigeria is getting worse by the day. Ndume , who could hide his feelings when he appear on Channels Television , Sunday politics, lamented the resurgence of the Boko Haram/Islamic State of West African Province, ISWAP and the frequent attack on Communities in various local government Areas of the state.
He had cited the recent attack on Communities in Askira and Damboa , two local government Areas, within his Senatorial district where some people were said to have been killed and valuables including food items were carted away, an indication that if the soldiers could put in more effort and caught off their sources of food supply the war in the region would be over.
His majory is the ease at which the BokoHaram and ISWAP, Insurgents enter most of the Communities in the local government Areas to carry out their attacks despite large presence of security personnel in the state and escape to thin air. Take for instance, about two weeks ago, two bombs were said to have been detonated in Gwoza, where the Nigeria Police Force, NPF, has a College, for Training of its Cadets . Ndume, described as a radical Lawmaker , from Borno, also confirmed the Insurgents attack on Muno, a few Kilometer to Maiduguri, the state Capital, an indication that it may be the only place that is safe in the state because of the large Concentration of soldiers, thus , exposing Askira, Damboa, and other Local government Areas to the terrorists. This may have informed why the Islamic Fundamentalists have stepped up their efforts to take over Maiduguri, by launching attacks on the nearby Communities to draw the attention of the Tukur Buratai, a Lt .General and Chief of Army that they are are as strong as ever.
There are fears in both official and unofficial circles that the Insurgents had penetrated Maiduguri, the Borno state Capital and are waiting for an opportunity to regroup and engage the soldiers for control of the north east City.
Recall, that Babagana Umara Zulum, a Professor And the state governor , late last year had held a closed door meeting with the Katsina state born Nigerian President, when he noticed the threat on Maiduguri with the attacks on Communities in Gubio, Magumeri and Koduga, as he was said to have wept because of the frequency of the attacks.
The governor was said to have severally met with the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole nd the Commander of the various Brigades in the local government Areas of the state who were said to have given assurance of sustained military action in the state but not much appear to have been achieved by the soldiers to contain the activities of the Insurgents who had continued to wreck havoc in the state.
The insecurity situation in the north east , with the kipnap and Killing of Lawan Andimi, a Clergyman and Chairman, of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Michika Local government Area, of Adamawa, home state of Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President and Presidential Candidate of the PDP, in the last general election, may have forced the leadership of the religious Association to orders its members cross the country on a prayer walk against the killings in the country.
Last Sunday, Enoch Adejare Adeboye, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, ileading , was said to have led the Prayer walk, against the insecurity in the country at Ebute Emeta, Lagos Mainland Local government, amidst tight security. Some of the placards carried by the people reads : Every life matters, Shed No Blood it Cries To God, All Souls Are Precious To God, It is Evil To kill. The Prayer walk may have been very successful in the Lagos axisis because Adeboye, the RCCG, General Overseer, had had directed members to participate in the Prayer Walk declared by CAN, to protest the spate of killings across the country.
Recall that the US Department of State had blamed the inclusion of Nigeria to the list of countries on the xpanded travel ban list to the Buhari led government for failing to adequately share public safety and terrorism related information necessary for the protection of the national security.
The US Department of Stated noted that despite support to the Nigerian government in the global fight against terrorism and Border management capabilities, the West African country has not considered it necessary to improve its information sharing on terrorism matters with the US, fueling speculations making the rounds that the country was hiding the identity of the terrorists who are carry out the killings in the country.
Aware of the country’s security lapses over the last four years which had escalated the insurgency in the north eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe and Bandit attacks in Sokoto, regarded as the Caliphate state and Katsina, the President , home state, and Zammfara, Buhari, had met recently with the service Chiefs, at the Council Chambers, State House, to rub mind on how to adoption new security options to handle the deteriorating the security challenge of the country .
Nigerians , in diaspora, particular, those in the US, who already had their green cards are not happy the government is doing much to address the Trump new Immigration policy which would affect their state in the country. A source at the Nigerian Immigration Service , NIS, told The value News that the travel ban is a big blow to other Nigerians who may be hoping of relocating to the US ,to start a new life through the lottery process.
The source disclosed that the Nigeria immigrants make up the largest number of the African Continent immigrants population living in the Us. Feelers from the US embassy, shows that over 327,000 Nigerians are living in various states in the country, mostly in Washington Seatle, Dallas, Chicago, Baltimore, Atlanta, Phoenix and Houston.
It was gathered that in 2018 alone, the US government had granted Nigerians living in the country about 14,000 green cards. The citizens of other countries included in the expanded travel ban were granted a combined total of 6,000 green cards. There are fears that the figure would drop signigficantly this year with the Travel ban imposed on Nigeria by Trump.
Last year, Nigeria was said to have also top the counties sending foreign students to the US. It was said to have had over 13,000 student studying in different Universities in the North American country.