The Federal Government has lodged a formal protest to the government of the United Kingdom (UK) over the proposed visa policy that imposes a 3,000 pounds (N750, 000) bond for intending visitors from Nigeria.
Foreign Affairs Minister, Olugbenga Ashiru, had summoned the UK High Commissioner, Andrew Pocock, to formally register Federal Government’s displeasure to the policy.
The policy, scheduled to commence in November, would impose the cash bond on visitors from Nigeria and five other countries.
A statement on Wednesday quoted the minister as describing the policy as “not only discriminatory but also capable of undermining the commonwealth family”.
The policy, according to the minister, would negate the joint commitment by Prime Minister David Cameron and President Goodluck Jonathan, to double the volume of trade of both countries by 2014.
He also noted the policy would hinder people-to-people contacts, which it said remained a core principle of the commonwealth and that it was coming at a time when Commonwealth Foreign Ministers had unanimously recommended a proposal to remove visa requirements for holders of official and diplomatic support for member states.
That proposal is slated for adoption at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka in November 2013, the statement added.
Ashiru, therefore, warned that Nigeria had a responsibility to take “appropriate measures” to protect the interests of its citizens, who might be affected by the proposed policy.
Wednesday’s statement quoted the minister as recalling how the UK government in 1985 unilaterally jettisoned a practice that allows commonwealth nationals to travel freely to the UK and to other member states.
The minister expressed regrets that the action by the UK Government 28-years ago weakened the “bonds of the commonwealth family’’.
Responding, the statement quoted the UK envoy as saying that the new policy “could, indeed, affect a few Nigerians, especially first time applicants”.
The UK High Commissioner said it was regrettable that the yet-to-be announced policy was leaked to the media as the modality for its implementation had yet to be worked out.
He assured the minister that the views and concerns of Nigerians would be conveyed to his home government.