We appreciate the effort your administration has made with regard to addressing religious persecution globally and especially in Nigeria.
Therefore we received with shock, the news that your administration has added Nigeria to your Muslim visa ban.
Mr President this is not right. This visa ban has only added to the very persecution that you have acknowledged.
Firstly, the Obama State Department expressly stated that he would not visit Nigeria because they preferred a “Muslim majority” country like Senegal even though Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and a top USA trade partner.
Your administration has essentially deemed Nigeria a Muslim country deserving of a visa ban despite your administration’s welcome recognition of Nigeria’s persecution of Christians.
Mr President, Nigeria is actually the largest country in the world with an equal population of Muslims and Christians.
Ironically, even before this unfortunate policy, many Nigerian pastors’ visas were embargoed by the US embassy during your administration than during President Obama’s tenure. However Nigerian officials who perpetrate persecution get visas.
Secondly, over 11,000 Nigerian international students attend schools in the US bringing in over half a billion dollars annually into the US.
11,000 students is the equivalent of a good sized university. Therefore, Nigerian International students create employment and funding for the equivalent of an entire university system.
The US has the world’s largest population of international students of over 1,000,000 – 5% of America’s student population.
Students from sub Saharan Africa comprise only 5% of the international students but Nigerian students who comprise 1% of the 1 million international students pay half a billion dollars in fees.
International students help subsidize educational costs for American students who pay much lower fees than they do.
There is actually active competition for international students by several western countries.
The United Kingdom proposed a visa restriction on Nigeria but it was reversed within days after the new government then was made to realize the hundreds of millions of pounds injected into the UK economy by Nigerian international students. The amount paid in fees to UK universities exceeds the entire national budget for education in Nigeria and helps subsidize education for British students.
It is for this reason that both the US and UK are amongst countries including Turkey who aggressively market their universities in Nigeria. Every year, upwards of 50 US universities send staff to Nigeria to participate in educational fairs to recruit Nigerian students to study in America!
Apart from the financial benefits to the US of these students, educating international students has long been recognized as a modern tool of diplomacy – building futuristic bridges and promoting American Ideas and Ideals.
In the case of Nigeria, her very first president at independence was a Nigerian International student who attended Lincoln University, in the US, Nnamdi Azikiwe.
At a time when islamist terrorism has destroyed hundreds of schools, at the hands of a group called “Boko Haram” or “western education is evil,” thousands of committed Nigerian students literally put their lives at risk by courageously still seeking western education.
This is not the time to make things even more difficult for them by introducing such a visa restriction. Mr President, please reverse this ill-advised ban now.
Hajara I. ESQ
B. Nwosu Ph.D
Y. TELLA Ph.D
Prof C. E. C Onoh
Scripture Union Enugu, Nigeria
Bishop Oscar Ossai
Washington DC USA