Posted by Olaniyi Abodedele on Saturday, January 18, 2014 Under: News Stories
Sandton, Johannesburg, South Africa; The Nigerian High Commissioner, Ambassador Sunday Yusuf while addressing members of the South Africa-Nigeria Chamber of Commerce on the 21st of November 2013 stated that the Nigerian High Commission, South Africa will process business visas for business people visiting Nigeria in 48 hours.
The Nigerian ambassador said that, “I can assure you, if you come to us you business people, you will get your visa in not more than 48 hours, and I can beat my chest that we do better than South African embassy in Abuja that’s for sure, but beyond that, we don’t entertain visa agents, we don’t deal with them”.
Speaking about Nigerian visas, Mrs. Dianna Games, the honorary CEO of the chamber, mentioned in her address that after a bit of tussling they got the Head of Immigration to issue 3 years Visas for business travelers to Nigeria. In reaction to Mrs. Games statement, the Nigerian Ambassador seized the opportunity to set the records straight and made it clear that “I think also talking about the visa, right from the state visit we signed an accord a week before the state visit for the 3 years visa for the business people and one of the things we observed since the state visit is that despite the 3 years, some business people come to tell us they only want visa for 6 months or one year, we are always shocked and surprised”.
The outgoing Chamber President Deon Bruwer quickly interrupted the Nigeria Ambassador saying he was one of the people that declined the 3 years visa because the one year visa was R1, 000; the two years visa was R5, 000 and the three years visa R15, 000.
To this, the Ambassador responded that the fee for three years visa is the same R1, 540. “I think I should set the records straight; we still have challenges of some unscrupulous entities calling themselves visa agent that is where we are still having challenges. At least since late last year as far as the High Commission is concerned even at the Consulate we are not using any visa agent”. He cited an example of a visa applicant who called him that his passport had been lying in the mission for the past 4 days and his visa has not been issued. Investigations by the High Commission revealed that their passport was with unauthorized visa agent who was assisting the applicant. The ambassador further alerted his audience about the activities of these illegal visa agents, emphasizing that the High Commission does not work with them. “This are visa agent who go around extorting extra money from unsuspecting visa applicant, blackmailing the mission claiming that they need to see somebody to fast track their visa. Please it’s important to let you know that we don’t deal with visa agents”.
Mrs. Games also remarked that the problem is not getting the visas, but the regularly dysfunctional online payment system and also lack of visa stickers. These, she said allow visa agents to thrive. To this, the Nigerian Ambassador responded “We are trying to address the issue of online payment because the system is not under our control; it’s based with the NIS (Nigeria Immigration Services) we’ve been speaking to the Controller General to see how we can deal with the issues. That is why In Pretoria we are not transacted to online payment because of such challenges and experience. And problem is not only Johannesburg; it’s all over the world”.
Also, responding to the issue of visa stickers, the Ambassador continued ““But we’ve addressed that and Nigeria Immigration Services (NIS) has made sure we have enough stickers. It’s true that the so called agents always use that as part of their means from extorting money from people saying there are no stickers”.
“I must say that this is a challenge we have, though we have been pro-active about it, the fact is that you will be shocked to know the amount of visa applications we receive in our two missions on a daily basis, it is astronomical, the allocation we get in-terms of the stickers from NIS for the two missions sometimes you can’t take care of a single quarter, that we’ve taking care of”. “The problem is not from the tourist or business people; the problem is from the religious tourist to Nigeria. That is where we have the challenge, the TB Joshua’s, the Christ Embassy’s and this is their season. Last year December for example, in the space of 2 weeks, we had more than 5,000 visa request from religious organizations alone and also from Lesotho, Swaziland next door, we were bombarded with that”.
He warned prospective travelers to Nigeria to desist from patronizing agents for their visas. “…we’ve abolished the agent system; we don’t want to deal with any agent. I am saying this to all the business community, please process your visas directly with us”, he stressed.
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