September 30, 2022

US and UK visa ban: A critical approach

For me, there are many factors – saliently and openly- which contributed to Governor Godwin Obaseki’s victory in the Edo State governorship election on Saturday. Having to praise the sanctions of visa bans by the USA and the UK as the main and sole factor, which is responsible for the good behaviour of political leaders and the elite in Edo State, is to take for granted the rational thinking, common sense and good will of the Edo people. I think these factors hold sway and responsible for the peaceful outcome of the election. Although the national leader of the APC, Chief Bola Tinubu, and other political actors like Governor Nyesom Wike of the PDP, came to the state, under the pretext of campaigning and mobilising their political supporters to go out to cast their ballots, but the utterances and public statements are to the contrary, suggesting the act of pouring petrol and lighting up the burning political crisis. Also, I see other factors such as Adams Oshiomhole’s hegemonic power to divide and disrupt the APC in the state, Tinubu’s political verbal attacks and assault on Obaseki backfired and Obaseki’s popularity as incumbent governor and his good development performance in office, etc.

However, I see the visa ban from a different perspective, it is a mechanism for foreign intervention in the Nigeria’s/Edo’s electoral process. I have yet to read about the US and UK using visa ban against other countries, whose election practices are worse than Nigeria- outright rigging of elections in Ukraine and other former Eastern European countries. The US and UK visa sanctions shouldn’t be acceptable and celebrated, because they show a lack of respect for Nigeria’s sovereignty and an expression of lack of confidence in the Buhari regime to properly conduct and manage elections in the country.

I know that the US and the UK have the right to impose visa ban on any country, but not as an influencing and controlling mechanism for the people of another country to forcibly conform to the dictates of a more advanced and powerful country in the world, such as the US and the UK. Is the US serving as a ‘policeman and enforcer’ of proper electoral behaviour in Nigeria? I consider the actions of the two countries as a gross political abuse of their Super Power status in the world. My position here isn’t by any means supporting violence, thuggery and rigging of an election in Edo State.

The Nigerian politicians must buckle down and stop their political madness and embrace the civilised approach to conducting elections within the framework of democracy in Nigeria. Hence, the conduct of fair, free and credible elections throughout Nigeria without a threat of visa ban hanging over the country from a foreign superpower such as the US and UK. I consider the visa ban as welding a big stick approach rather than using the carrot means of educating the irresponsible political leaders and their supporters, who see elections as a do-or die-undertaking in Nigeria. The US and UK should embrace a carrot approach through education and awareness programmes to sensitise the people to the need to observe the rights of Nigerian citizens to a fair, free and credible elections across the country.

For instance, currently in the United States, all is not well for the upcoming presidential election on November 3, 2020, with President Donald Trump’s radical changes to the traditional roles for many public institutions, such as the US Postal Service, to undermine the election in order for him to win his reelection bid. An important question for Nigerians is: Who bells the cat in the US? Can Nigeria interfere and impose a visa ban on Trump and his political cohorts in the Republican Party trying to undermine, manipulate and rig the coming presidential election? Of course no, because Nigeria has no strong power, global influence, effective economic and political leverages against the US. Over time, I am optimistic that Nigeria would invariably get its conduct of elections right, free of violence, vote-buying, thuggery and rigging.

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