The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, has said that the US travel ban on Nigeria came as a rude shock to the country.
The minister, who spoke during the visit of the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Leonard, to his office, stressed that owing to the impact Nigerian professionals have on the US economy, it was unfair to add the country on the list.
Earlier in February, the US President, Donald Trump imposed an immigration visa ban on Nigeria and five other countries including Eritrea, Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan, Sudan and Tanzania
Dr Ngige asked the US ambassador to convey the mood of Nigerians to President Trump and state that the ban is punitive.
“The issue of Nigerian professionals who migrate to the United States to better their skills; it came to us in this Ministry as a rude shock when the US government ban Nigeria and put us in the list of those countries whose immigrant status were cancelled.
“I want you to convey it home that the ban is punitive,” he added.
While responding Ambassador Leonard clarified that the visa ban does not affect people who currently reside in the US, stating that the ban is due to problems of information sharing if addressed, can be reviewed.
“The immigrant visa ban has no effect on people who currently residents in the US; Secretary Pompeo said that it is temporary and it’s about problems with information sharing which are resolvable and we look forward to Nigeria in a very short while, being able to meet those information sharing so the decision can be reviewed.”
She urged the Minister to find mechanisms to harness the abundant entrepreneurial skills in Nigeria’s informal sector and capture it into the formal sector.
“For Nigeria, your portfolio has such an incredible interest for the prosperity and diversification of the economy and Nigerians are so well-known at home and abroad for their industriousness and you hear of how much that activities happen in the informal sector and I wonder how you capture the entrepreneurial spirit into the formal sector.”
Dr Ngige informed that there are already mechanisms in place to upgrade all the skills acquisition centres nationwide so that more skills can be exported to the US and other European countries.
“We are trying to make Nigerians have their skills so that we can export those skills, so that when they go out, they will not be illegal migrants; whether they are carpenters, tailors or welders. We have skills acquisition centres, and we are upgrading all of them so that when they come out, the certificates that come out from our schools will be generally accepted.
“There are those we train here, and they want to go to US and sharpen their skills more,” he added.