Visa Ban: Buhari sends message to UAE President

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President Muhammadu Buhari has made a special appeal for the lifting of the blanket visa ban placed on Nigerians by the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

This was just as Buhari inaugurated the Presidential Transition Council to facilitate and manage the 2023 transition programme to the next administration on Tuesday.

The president made the appeal to lift the visa bank on Monday, during a telephone conversation with the President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who doubles as the Emir of Abu Dhabi.

According to a statement yesterday, by presidential spokesperson, Mallam Garba Shehu, Buhari had called Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to condole with him on the death of his mother-in-law, Sheikha Maryam Al Falasi, during which important issues of mutual concern between the two countries came up.

The president requested his UAE counterpart to review the blanket visa ban imposed on Nigerians intending to travel to the UAE.

He recalled that mutually beneficial excellent relations hav subsisted between the two nations over many years, symbolized by robust economic interactions and regular consultations on matters of common interest, including engagements at the highest political levels.

Buhari, noted that recent irritants in bilateral relations generated by consular issues relating to the behaviour of some Nigerians in the UAE were being ironed out, explaining that no country including Nigeria would condone criminalities and illegal behaviours.

He therefore expressed the readiness of the Government of Nigeria to apply necessary sanctions through appropriate judicial process against anyone identified to have committed criminal acts in the UAE, urging that the issue be allowed to be handled by the relevant security/intelligence agencies of the two countries and to come up with lasting solutions to the problems associated with criminalities and illegalities.

Buhari also requested a resumption of the suspended operations of Emirates Airline in the country.

Emirates Airline had suspended its operations in Nigeria in 2022, in the wake of its inability to repatriate funds trapped in Nigeria.

The president assured the UAE leader that the issue of the Emirates funds was receiving appropriate attention alongside those of other foreign airlines operating in Nigeria, adding that the Central Bank of Nigeria had been directed to increase foreign exchange allocation to the airline.

Meanwhile, at the inauguration of the Presidential Transition Council to facilitate and manage the 2023 transition programme to the next administration, the president was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha.

The president said his records of achievements must be preserved.

Mustapha, who is the Chairperson of the Council, said the inauguration demonstrated the commitment of the administration to strengthen key governance institutions that support the democratic process.

“Although the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria sets out the overarching framework for assumption of office of the President, this is the first time in our history as a country that the federal government of Nigeria will be establishing a detailed process for managing presidential transitions of government at the federal level.

“It is with great delight and honour therefore, that I am carrying out the onerous task of inaugurating the Presidential Transition Council, on behalf of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” Mustapha said.

According to him, the council was charged with the responsibility of facilitating and managing the 2023 Presidential Transition Programme in line with the Executive Order No. 14 of 2023.

He said the council would facilitate the handing over process by the incumbent president to the president-elect, organise for the security of the president-elect and the vice president-elect and coordinate security briefings on the nation’s security matters post-elections.

He said the council would also to provide fully furnished office and personnel for the president-elect and his/her transition team, co-ordinate the briefings of the president-elect by relevant public officers, facilitate communication between the outgoing president and the president-elect and prepare the programme and organise for the swearing-in ceremony.

He stressed that the council would have all powers necessary for the execution of its functions under the new Executive Order and conduct its business in line with national ethics as espoused in Section 23 of the Constitution.

“I enjoin each of us to put in even more effort in ensuring the next administration receives every support needed to make an early and quick start. In a few months, it will be eight years that the Buhari administration has been in power.

“Within this period, we have made significant strides in advancing the fortunes of our nation, we have also learnt lessons that will be useful for the incoming administration, and it is on the strength of this trajectory, that the current administration is committing itself to make the 2023 transition process seamless for the incoming President and his team,” he said.

He also announced the appointment of the Special Adviser to the President on Policy and Coordination, Dr. Habiba Muda- Lawal, as the Secretary of the Presidential Transition Council in line with Executive Order No.14, adding she shall be known as the Federal Transition Coordinator.

Members of the council are the SGF as Chairperson; Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice; Permanent Secretaries from the ministries and offices responsible for Defence, Interior, Budget and National Planning, Foreign Affairs, Information and Culture, Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) and Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs.

Others are Cabinet Affairs, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF), General Services, OSGF; Economic and Political Affairs, OSGF; State House, National Security Adviser, Chief of Defence Staff, Inspector-General of Police; Director General, National Intelligence Agency; Director General, State Security Services; Clerk of the National Assembly, Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court of Nigeria; and two representatives, to be nominated by the President-elect.