A GUIDES ON FOREIGN TRAVELS & IMMIGRATION MATTERS
The publication with the above title is part of TERRIFIC CONCEPTS, a Strategic Plan of Action designed to invite attention to some very salient issues that could be addressed in Nigeria’s march towardsbuilding a greater polity. The book is being released at a time that the international community is getting increasingly disturbed by increasing perpetration social and criminal ills globally, including illegal migration and terrorism. Global and regional blocs have adopted best practices, standards and procedures for combating and preventing these disturbing issues, including trafficking in human beings. Dialogue and cooperation on migration between advanced countries and the Third World that constitutes countries of origin and are ongoing continuously. The Action Plans cover a range of issues such as measures to improve the understanding of the crime and its dimensions, prevent trafficking, reduce demand, more efficient investigation and prosecution, protection and support of victims, safe return and reintegration and also issues linked to anti-trafficking. One important point is the need to ensure that policies and programmes of Government are understood by the general populace through various means of communication.
PROACTIVE RATHER THAN REACTIVE STEPS
Th book under reference emphasizes proactive rather than the reactive option through communicative strategies. Issues being publicized are germane to societal development and neglect of vital sub-sectors of the economy that have to be grown through visioning and long -planning. Many of the illegal activities recorded at Nigeria’s border posts have been committed both willfully and ignorantly by some Nigerians and their foreign collaborators. In some cases, foreigners have been found to be complicit. But the Law does not permit for plea of ignorance as an excuse. It is for the purposes of preventing these regrettable activities, and to provoke sensitization & public enlightenment activities directed at attitudinal changes that the compilation has been put together. In the compilation, the author notes that “Human thoughts in the developing world have been refined to view in advanced countries, streets paved with gold, where everything works; when in actual fact the West also harbours both the good and the ugly.”
He notes that: “Regrettably, millions of Nigerians have gone in search of the proverbial ‘golden fleece’; while several brilliant minds, professionals in their fields of specialization, have abandoned the country to build the economies of the West in what appears like the second slavery era. The only difference is that they were not physically forced to abandon their native country; and are not being forcefully kept in foreign lands. It is intriguing to note that people think they could just go abroad to roam the streets of foreign countries aimlessly. That is simply the result of desperation. It is not heartening recalling very terrible incidents that have happened to thousands of Nigerians that have attempted to cross the Sahara desert into Europe, and others tricked into prostitution in foreign lands; or those killed and imprisoned in countries like Libya. Some other desperate Nigerians have paid the supreme price in countries of the far-East, where peddling of hard drugs is a crime. The fight against terror has heightened the level of security measures put in place at border posts. Nations are now investing heavily in the procurement of the latest cyber terrorism technology and the latest counterterrorism, and intelligence and investment in e-technology solutions. It is an established fact that most intending travellers are not adequately informed about the pros and cons of visiting other nations for different reasons. Most people may not be fully aware of the dangers inherent in keeping porous border posts and failure of users of sea, land and land ports to respect stipulated guidelines cost nations huge amounts in losses of revenue and smooth operations. Planning for trips overseas for tourism or business entails more than what most people envisage. Preparations commence with the procurement of a travelling passport issued by the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the Nigeria Immigration Service. It does not end until the traveller successfully goes through Immigration formalities at the land, air, or sea ports of Nigeria and foreign nations being visited. It is also important to bear in mind that possession of an entry visa does not automatically translate into automatic entry by visitors at the border posts of foreign nations. Similarly, entry into Nigeria is not complete until entry clearance officers permit visitors to enter at Nigeria’s borders; and Customs and Excise Department, in the case of goods and services.
The Foreword to the book is written by Ambassador Joe C. Keshi, a retired diplomat who notes that: ” To all intents and purposes, Femi Adelegan is eminently placed to put this compilation together given his vast experiences as a sound and tested professional with links in areas touched by the publication. I commend the author’s observation that: “Many intending travellers are not adequately informed about the pros and cons of visiting other nations for different reasons” and that “Planning for trips overseas for tourism or business entails more than what most people envisage.” The author invites attention to the global fight against terror that has heightened the level of security measures put in place at border posts; and posited that preparations commence with the procurement of a traveling passport issued by the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the Nigeria Immigration Service. It does not end until the traveller successfully goes through Immigration formalities at the land, air, or sea ports of Nigeria and foreign nations being visited. It is also important to bear in mind that possession of an entry visa does not automatically translate into automatic entry by visitors at the border posts of foreign nations. Similarly, entry into Nigeria is not complete until entry clearance officers permit visitors to enter at Nigeria’s borders; and the Nigerian Customs Service, in the case of goods and services.
AmbassadrKeshi continues: “The author carefully examines issues like why Nigerians love to travel so much, the costs of travels and justification for embarking on trips abroad, preparations for documentations for the trips, including immigration and diplomatic matters involved, with intent to educate prospective applicants for travel documentation on conducts expected of them before, during and after their planned visits to foreign nations. The author also broadly treats how to use land, air and sea border ports/posts and what to expect at these important exits and entry points. He also quite aptly, also raises the issue of the need for self-restraint by a few Nigerians, whose nefarious activities abroad, alongside official corruption and mismanagement continue to cast Nigeria in negative light globally. He offers sound professional advice to those involved, to help them guard against such practices that have negative implications for Nigeria and other innocent Nigerians. He equally counsels about the need for Nigerians to view the country’s Missions abroad as useful places which they could visit for any kind of assistance needed. Nigeria’s Embassies/High Commissions are there by virtue of Article 55 of the Charter of the United Nations, signed in San Francisco in 1945. It recognizes the need for the peoples of the world to collaborate, and therefore, supports the “creation of conditions of stability and well-being, which are necessary for peaceful and friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples.”
One notable feature in this book is Femi Adelegan’s strong plea to Nigerians to stop emigrating abroad, particularly illegal migration, due to the harshness of the economy; but stay at home to join hands to build a truly great and prosperous Nigeria. This, he says, could be realized by enforcing good governance through legitimate and democratic options. The author equally encourages Nigerians to abandon sycophancy and other ills that have plagued the nation, and resolve to make the people the key components of governance who could take the political class to task. They could do this by empowering themselves democratically to choose/elect their representatives freely and democratically. The author states that: “Nigerians must show that they are the masters of people in Government and demand for good governance as of right. “People must discontinue the practice of taking several pages of advertisements in newspapers and airtime on electronic media to thank government functionaries who commission projects in their areas; for what politicians promised to do while campaigning for votes; and for duties they are paid to do.”
Indeed, this publication could not have come at a better time than now, when the whole world is united about the need for good governance, and combatting terror; issues that have and nations have continued to tighten their immigration policies, and when the federal government of Nigeria is introducing a new border control and immigration system to ease operations at the nation’s border posts, coupled with the introduction of a multi bio-metric system that is capable of generating a database of travelers and users of the ports. This book is “A Must Read” for all who wish to be guided on how to have smooth passages at border posts in Nigeria and abroad, attaining the objective of doing business with ease in Nigeria, and for Nigerians to conduct themselves in an orderly manner while on visits abroad.
Ambassador Joe C. Keshi, OON
Retired Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
& Vice-Chairman, Board of Directors, United Bank for Africa Plc