Former Nigerian vice president Atiku Abubakar has blamed President Muhammadu Buhari’s government for the travel ban on the country by the United States.
The US placed immigration restrictions on Nigeria, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Sudan and Tanzania on Friday. The restriction will come into effect on February 22 and are less sweeping, unlike the travel ban President Donald Trump unveiled in January 2017, which targeted Muslim countries.
Atiku insisted that Nigeria would not have been banned if the Buhari government had taken information sharing with the United States very serious.
“The current Nigerian administration may have its deficiencies and deep faults, but the Nigeria people ought not to be punished for their inefficiencies,” Atiku said in a statement on Saturday.
“While I understand the reasons given by the Trump administration (the failure of the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to share information and to address issues of terrorism), the ban does not take into account the pro-American sentiments of the Nigerian public and the solidarity previous Nigerian administrations have had with the United States,” Atiku said.
“I urge the government of President Donald Trump to consider the history of US-Nigerian relationships.”
But contrary to Atiku’s claims that the Buhari government failed to share information on terrorism-related issues with the US, an American official told CNN that Nigeria and the United States regularly cooperate on counter-terrorism. The official said Nigeria, however, should improve its identity management and reporting to Interpol.
Another American official told AFP that the restrictions came into effect as a “result of these countries’ unwillingness or inability to adhere to certain baseline identity management, information sharing and national security and public safety assessment criteria that were established by the department in 2017.”
The former vice president urged the American government to rescind its decisions on Nigeria, considering the diplomatic and trade relations between the two countries.
Atiku said the Trump administration should consider the pivotal role Nigeria, in partnership with the US, played in bringing peace to Liberia, an American sphere of influence, “that now enjoys democracy because Nigerian blood and money paved the way for peace in that nation.”
“Nigeria has also consistently voted in support of the United States and her allies at the UN and other multilateral world bodies. This is even as we are perhaps the biggest trading partner that the United States has in Africa, even where we had alternatives,” Atiku said.
The new travel restrictions will target certain visa categories and those who are seeking to move to the United States permanently.