As Britain proceeds with its proposed policy to introduce a £3,000 visa bond for first time visitors to the country from Nigeria, India, Pakistan and other countries, the federal government has said it will take appropriate steps that will reflect the national interest should Britain go ahead with the plan.
The retaliatory steps that would be adopted by Nigeria however remained unclear, but there was speculation Tuesday among sources in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that Nigeria might respond by tightening its visa policy for intending visitors from the United Kingdom.
However, speaking on the issue, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Gbenga Ashiru, said Nigeria was yet to receive any official communication from Britain on the matter.
“If and when a communication to that effect is received, the Federal Government of Nigeria will take appropriate steps to reflect its national interest,” a statement signed by the ministry’s spokesperson, Mr. Ogbole Amedu Ode, said.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria has already conveyed its objection to the bond payment to the UK government, when the Honorable Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru, summoned the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Andrew Pocock, to the Tafawa Balewa House, on 25th June, 2013,” the statement added.
Although the UK Government is yet to take a final decision on the imposition of the £3,000, Britain had said if implemented, the policy would only target a small fraction of applicants who are considered “high risk”; in other words, those with a likelihood to abscond or overstay their visa tenure, or enjoy public facilities at the expense of British taxpayers.
This development is likely to strain relations between Nigeria and Britain, which recently pledged to double the volume of trade between them by 2014.
There were media reports that the British Government would commence the implementation of the policy for Nigeria, India, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Bangladesh in November 2013.
India has also registered its protest alongside some British businesses, which enjoy the large patronage of millions of Nigerians who holiday in the UK.