President Muhammadu Buhari has said that efforts made by his government had drawn the country closer to reversing Visa restrictions imposed by the United States of America.
In a statement signed by the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, Buhari was quoted to have said this while receiving the report of the committee on Citizen Data Management and Harmonisation chaired by the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola.
Contained in the statement titled “Nigeria making progress to reverse US visa restrictions -President,” Buhari said two of the six areas of concern had been addressed.
The President said, ‘‘I also note the progress made by Nigeria towards the removal of the visa restrictions as two out of the six areas of concern raised by the United States had been fully addressed, two are substantially satisfied while some progress is being made on the remaining two.
‘‘I am delighted that this progress, especially the uploading of Lost and Stolen Passport and Travel Documents has been acknowledged by the United States Government.
‘‘An effective Citizen Data Management System is critical for socio-economic planning, improved service delivery and good governance, as well as national and global security. It also has the over-arching benefit of enhancing integrity of the nation’s citizens’ identity instruments for the purpose of information sharing.
”Accordingly, the committee’s recommendations on the strategies for harmonising existing databases, improving the infrastructure for the National Identity Database as well as a review of the supervisory mechanism of the National Identity Management Commission would be given serious consideration.
‘‘The implementation of the recommendations as estimated by the committee would require enormous resources. In this regard, an implementation committee would be constituted to further study the recommendations and develop a workable implementation plan.
”In consideration of the fact that the concerns raised cast doubts on the credibility of the nation’s citizen identity data management system, the scope of the committee’s assignment was expanded to include strategies to harmonise the various citizen identity data held by different Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
‘‘I have gone through the highlights of the Report and must commend the Chairman and members of the Committee for painstakingly carrying out the assignment in spite of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
‘‘The recommendations as highlighted are capable of addressing the concerns raised by the US Government as well as lead to the development of a reliable national citizen identity data management system.”
By Daniel Ojukwu