By Asmau Ahmad with Agency Report
No fewer than 20,000 out the 40,000 Nigerians who to travel to India every year were those seeking for medical attention, the Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Ajjampur Ghanashyam, has said. Ghanashyam told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Abuja that 50 per cent of those issued with visa to that country, sought for medical care, while the remaining travelled for business, tourism, training and tertiary education.
“About 40,000 Nigerians go to India annually and 50 per cent of them go for medical. The remaining 50 per cent go for tourism, business, and training and as students.
“The rejection rate is very low, may be 20 to 25 per cent or even lower than that but it is not more than 25 per cent,” he said. The envoy explained that the high commission was always careful in ensuring that only Nigerians without questionable character travelled to his country. According to him, the measure is aimed at protecting genuine applicants from falling victims of fraudsters who masquerade as visa agents.
He said many of such fraudsters had duped unsuspecting visa applicants, who later realized that the documents they were issued by the agents were fake. The envoy said that already, the ICPC had secured the conviction of 27 fraudulent visa agents on behalf of the high commission.
Ghanashyam advised prospective visa applicants to come directly to the high commission, assuring that adequate measures had been adopted to protect the applicants from visa scammers. He, however, regretted that in spite of the high volume of air traffic between India and Nigeria, there was still no direct flight between the two countries.
“Presently, there are no direct flights between Nigeria and India, travelers are currently forced to connect flights in Addis Ababa, South Africa or Dubai.
“Direct flights between Nigeria and India will boost business, tourism, save passengers flight time and reduce the stress of the journey.
“Also, direct movement of patients during emergencies could save a lot of lives; so direct flights are important during medical emergencies,” he said.
According to him, the high commission is working with relevant Nigerian authorities to introduce direct flight between Nigeria and India to boost bilateral relations.