The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has lifted the visa ban it imposed on Nigerians in October 2022, following a historic agreement reached between President Bola Tinubu and President of the UAE, Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, on Monday in Abu Dhabi.
The visa ban was a result of a diplomatic row between the two countries over the arrest and extradition of some Nigerian fraudsters who operated in Dubai. The UAE authorities accused Nigeria of not cooperating with them in the investigation and prosecution of the suspects.
The ban affected thousands of Nigerians who travel to Dubai for business, tourism, education and medical purposes. Many Nigerians expressed frustration and disappointment over the restriction, which they said was unfair and discriminatory.
However, after months of negotiations, President Tinubu was able to persuade his UAE counterpart to lift the ban and restore normal relations between the two countries. The two leaders also agreed to resume flight operations by Etihad Airlines and Emirates Airlines, which had been suspended due to the ban.
According to a statement from the presidency, the agreement does not involve any immediate payment by the Nigerian government, but rather a framework for new investments worth several billions of U.S. dollars into the Nigerian economy across multiple sectors, including defence, agriculture and others, by the investment arms of the UAE government.
The statement also announced a joint foreign exchange liquidity programme between the two governments, which will be detailed in the coming weeks. The programme is expected to ease the pressure on Nigeria’s naira currency, which has been devalued several times due to low oil prices and foreign exchange shortages.
President Tinubu commended President Al Nahyan for his friendship and his willingness to join hands with him to fully normalize and reset to excellence, the relations between the two important countries. He said he was confident that the agreement would benefit both countries and enhance their strategic partnership.
The lifting of the visa ban has been welcomed by many Nigerians who see it as a sign of Tinubu’s diplomatic prowess and his commitment to improving Nigeria’s image and influence in the world. Tinubu, who is also the current chair of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), has been praised for his role in resolving regional crises such as the political turmoil in Mali and Guinea-Bissau.