Ethiopia, Turkey, UAE Restrict Visa Access for Nigerian Passport Holders

Ethiopia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have tightened visa policies for Nigerian passport holders, revoking privileges such as visa-on-arrival, e-visas, and outright passport issuance.

Turkey no longer permits Nigerian passport holders to obtain e-visas, a process previously straightforward for Nigerian citizens. In 2022, the UAE banned Nigerian nationals and some other African citizens from entering Dubai. Despite efforts by the Nigerian government, the visa ban remains in place.

Aviation Minister Festus Keyamo announced that the UAE would lift the ban on Nigerians in October, but the implementation of this decision is uncertain.

Similarly, Ethiopia ceased issuing visa-on-arrival to Nigerians two years ago and has not reversed this policy. Airlines have advised passengers to obtain visas from the Ethiopian embassy in Abuja before traveling.

Bolanle Olukanni, daughter of former Nigerian Commissioner to Australia, Ambassador Ayoola Olukanni, recently expressed her frustration over her parents being denied visas due to concerns they would not return. Sharing her experience on social media, she highlighted the challenges faced by Nigerian passport holders.

“I just want you guys to know that the Nigerian passport has really been bastardized,” Olukanni wrote. She lamented that her father, a retired ambassador who served in Austria for three years, was denied a visa alongside his mother over fears of absconding.

The difficulties extend beyond these countries. Nigerian applications for South African visas have decreased due to delays and denials. According to data from the US Department of State, the number of study visas issued to Nigerians fell for the first time in three years, with 7,466 nonimmigrant (F-1) visas issued last year, down from 7,547 in 2022.

Oritseweyinmi Oritsejafor, a client advisor at Henley & Partners, noted that despite Nigeria being an economic powerhouse, Nigerian passport holders face significant travel restrictions. The country’s passport grants visa-free access to only 45 destinations, representing just 1.5 percent of global GDP.

“The Henley Opportunity Index evaluates 15 investment migration countries across six parameters, including quality of education, earning potential, career advancement, employment prospects, economic mobility, and high livability,” Oritsejafor said. Nigeria scored just 14 percent on the opportunity index, compared to Malta’s 55 percent, Spain’s 63 percent, the USA’s 81 percent, and Switzerland’s 88 percent.

Nigeria’s passport ranks among the 20 worst to hold in 2023, offering visa-free access to only 46 countries.

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