The Nigerian passport has fallen 38 places in a world passport ranking in the last 17 years.

This is according to Henley Passport Index reports between 2006 and 2022 compiled by the punch

The Henley Passport Index ranks passports by the number of countries their holders can access without a visa or with a visa-on-arrival program.

Although the Nigerian passport gained 11 more destinations, it fell from 62nd in 2006 to 100th in 2022.

This shows a steady decline in strength among the 199 countries and 227 travel destinations studied.

While the green passport now grants visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 46 countries, up from the previous total of 35 in 2006, Nigerians cannot access more than 181 visa-free, visa-on-arrival or visa-free travel destinations. electronics. arrangement.

As of September 2022, travelers with Nigerian passports can only travel through 25 countries without a visa.

However, that number increases to at least 46 destinations when visa-on-arrival or e-visa programs are added to the mix.

Countries offering visa-free, visa-on-arrival, and e-visa access to Nigerians at the time of this report include: Republic of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Others include: Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Timor-Leste, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Haiti, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, Fiji, Micronesia, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

According to the Henley Passport Index, which is based on data from the International Air Transport Association, a fall or rise in ranking is the result of several factors.

They include the country’s efforts to strengthen its diplomatic relations with other nations and its efforts to modernize its visa processes and improve security measures at its borders.

However, the experts reasoned that the strength of the green paper only reflects the internal challenges facing Nigeria.

In an earlier interview with our correspondent, the Director of Research at the Center for China Studies, Abuja, Charles Onunaiju, argued that the paltry visa-free access Nigerians enjoy globally reflects the internal problems the country is experiencing under the government. current.

He said: “We have a challenge. With Nigeria becoming inhospitable, especially for young people without opportunities, there is a desperation to go abroad.

“Almost all embassies are now applying regulations to Nigerians that they don’t impose on other nationals. That is very clear. People feel that almost all Nigerians want to leave here. That’s partly true because the nation has mishandled its potential. Our leaders have not taken advantage of the vast human resources available to us.

“If we want to earn respect from abroad, we must start from home. If we want the world to take us seriously, we must act together.”

But Nigeria’s passport issuing agency, the Nigerian Immigration Service, reasoned otherwise.

He said visa-free mobility is largely a reflection of bilateral agreements between countries and within regional blocs.

NIS spokesman Amos Okpu, who spoke to our correspondent earlier on the matter, said: “This classification is based on the admissibility of the passport. And that’s very much a function of mutual understanding, reciprocity between countries that doesn’t necessarily reflect the true strength of a passport. A good example is the European Union and ECOWAS.

“While we appreciate the work done by Henley & Partners, we are more concerned with deepening our passport technology to meet ICAO standards; making sure our passport meets ICAO guidelines.”

Okpu argued that Nigeria has been an ICAO Public Key Directory since April 2009 and is therefore in a respectable position in the community of nations.

The Public Key Directory is a central repository for the exchange of information required to authenticate electronic Machine Readable Travel Documents such as ePassports, eID cards and Visible Digital Seals.

Reaffirming the NIS position, Okpu said: “What we put the most emphasis on here is our position at ICAO. When the ICAO alerts us to a flaw in our passports, we get to work. Nigeria has been part of the Public Key Directory since 2009 and led us to comply with various passport security specifications to be reflected in that directory.