The Federal Government and the United States, yesterday, met in Abuja to deliberate on consular matters, particularly the ban on migrant visas slammed on the country earlier in the year.
This was even as the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, said the United States took seriously, the imposition of visa restriction to those who undermine electoral process as the integrity of electoral processes to the fundamental trust of compact between a citizen and their government.
The United States Ambassador further said anyone who was found guilty to have fell short of electoral compliance, would be subjected to sanctions.
Speaking after the inaugural US/Nigeria Consular Forum Meeting in Abuja, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Mustapha Suleiman, said the United States is satisfied with the government’s rate of meeting its demands, particularly in the area of information sharing.
Suleiman disclosed that of the concerns that led to the ban, Nigeria has met approximately 90 percent of the requirements, saying that the United States is currently re-evaluating the ban on some categories of migrant visas on Nigeria.
He further said the forum will serve as a platform where the United States and Nigeria can progressively improve on bilateral relations and address concerns for the benefit of citizens.
“We have accomplished so much within a very difficult year, but essentially, we want to acknowledge and put on record, Nigeria’s response to the concerns by the United States Government in respect of the immigrant visa restriction that was imposed on Nigerians.
“I want to say that we appreciate the acknowledgement and the commendations from the United States Government in respect of this response.
“From the assessment of the recipient of our response, I think we have accomplished almost 90 percent of the requirements that have been established in that regard.
“And I am sure that if you follow the information that has been passed on the level of compliance, for instance sharing of information, we have done so much in that regard.
“That is why I believe the US Government is having the comfort to even re-evaluate, otherwise, we wouldn’t have been candidates for re-evaluation.
“If we have to rate ourselves, from what has been done so far, we should be about 90 percent complaint.
“The consular forum was agreed on earlier in the year during the Bi- National Commission of the United States and Nigeria which was held in Washington in February and that agreement is what is coming to push now.
“We have just had the maiden consular forum meeting today and I want to put it on record that it has been a very successful meeting with various issues that were discussed,” Suleiman said.
On her part, Leonard hailed the Federal Government on the progress made in information sharing, including other areas of concern raised by the United States.
“I have to congratulate Nigeria on its progress on greater information sharing with the United States, which is croak of a lot of issues dealt with in these Presidential proclamations.
“We have reviewed the Federal Government’s report on information sharing and we are inspired by the strides that Nigeria has made to improve access to stolen and lost travel documents.
“And in particularly, encouraged by the September 7 announcement that the U.S provided Interpol router is successfully connected to Nigeria’s Immigration Service and National Center Bureau in Abuja.
“Washington is extremely pleased about that development in particular,” Leonard said.