By Timothy Ekpo
The Akwa Ibom Government had said that it would not relent in its efforts in supporting Federal Government agencies whose actions and responsibilities would add value to the living standard of people in the state.
The governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel, stated this at the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) Stakeholders Seminar, which recently took place at the Ibom Icon Hotel and Golf Resort, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
Represented by the deputy governor, Mr Moses Ekpo, the governor commended the Akwa Ibom command of the service led by CIS George Didel, for the partnering role in ensuring that Akwa Ibom was safe and secure.
The governor described the service as a critical member of the Nigerian security defence architecture, stressing that in most advanced countries, immigration serves as part of the first line of national defence in view of the immense role it performs in admitting migrants through ports of entries.
Governor Emmanuel pointed out that in the present world of asymptomatic security situation, the seemingly innocent migrants admitted into the country might be part of sleeper cell dispatched with an express and evil mission to cause a breach of public peace through acts of terrorism.
He said on this premise, there was need for NIS to meet regularly, explore new approaches of protecting the nation and thinking, anticipating and disrupting such evil designs had become even more necessary, urgent and imperative.
In view of the event which had as its theme, ” Driving Investments Through Safe Migration Corridors”, Governor Emmanuel wished the Nigeria Immigration Service a successful meeting and gave the assurance that Akwa Ibom would not relax in partnering agencies of the Federal Government whose activities and programmes would complement what the state does to improve on the wellbeing of the people.
The governor admitted that Akwa Ibom has the longest coastline with borders that attracted influx of legal and illegal visitors, and that only the service could tame the tide of illegal inflow of migrants into the state. He told the acting comptroller of the service that the state command of immigration and the Office of the Deputy Governor, tasked with the duty of handling border issues, have been working together to see how best such illegal movement could be checked.
The state chief executive said his administration would continue to do this, stressing that such determination explained the reason the government was conscious that the support with Federal Government agencies, including NIS, has to be full to ensure success.
In realising the objective, the governor stated that 90 percent of security votes for Akwa Ibom have gone into maintaining security agencies in the state, a development he pointed out has promoted peace and tranquility.
Mr Udom Emmanuel assured the immigration boss that the state will continue to work with the service under his leadership to make sure that Nigeria was safe for living.
The governor who declared the event open, said it was his hope that the seminar on the sensitization of stakeholders on 2020 New Visa Policy would evolve new ways and approaches by the service to deliver its mandate and ensure that illegal immigrants were kept from the shores of the nation.
The comptroller, Akwa Ibom Command of NIS, Didel, said as the 20th comptroller in the state, he had undertaken a tour of the 31 local government areas of the state with a view to establishing a rubost relationship to address the issues of trafficking and border security.
He said based on his findings on the tour of the state and meeting with major stakeholders, the seminar would feature four major issues on Nigeria Visa Policy, unlocking potentials through foreign direct investment as a panacea for securing Akwa Ibom State, MDAs and its benefits to migration management and reducing irregular migration and analysis and management of refugees in Akwa Ibom.
The acting comptroller of the service, Mr Isa Idris, thanked the government of Akwa Ibom for creating a robust business environment for the service to perform. He told the gathering that the New Visa Policy document they were looking at was a deliberate effort of NIS to bring about the attainment of the nation’s economy recovery plan to support the ease of doing the business programne of government to attract foreign direct investment.
Idris stated that visa was one of the success instruments used by the government to control the entry and exit of migrants into one’s country and inturn spur economic development, enhance global relationship, promote peace and security.
He said the Nigeria Visa Policy 2020 was an ambitious document that would transform the economy of the country, adding that in the document, NIS had expanded visa classes to 79 classes, comprising short visa, temporary resident visa and permanent resident visa, which accommodate all purposes of travel.
Comptroller Idris said in 2016, the service saw the need to carry out visa reforms to expand options and make entry and exit into the country more pleasant, stressing that the result of the reform was the innovation of Visa On Arrival (VOA), where applicants and corporate entities submit request for VOA to the office of the comptroller-general.
The comptroller-general said the measure had allowed the service to have a rubost migrant data base and efficient and effective passengers clearance base at control posts.