The Nigerian passport has seen a notable improvement in the global passport ranking, advancing nine positions in the latest update.
According to the Q2 2023 Henley Passport Index, the Nigerian passport has moved from the 100th position to 91st out of 199 countries and 227 travel destinations surveyed.
The Henley Passport Index evaluates passport strength based on the number of destinations accessible to its holders without requiring a prior visa.
While this ranking suggests increased global access for Nigerians, the actual number of countries accessible without visas or with visa-on-arrival remains at 46.
It is worth noting that the higher standing may not necessarily indicate a significant improvement in passport strength but rather a result of other countries experiencing a decline in their previous ratings.
As of June 2022, Nigerian passport holders could travel visa-free to 25 countries. However, this number increases to 45 destinations when considering visa-on-arrival or e-visa programs.
In comparison to other countries within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Nigerian passport ranks as the least powerful among the 15 member countries.
The Henley Passport Index shows The Gambia leading ECOWAS, ranked 72nd, followed by Sierra Leone (74th), Cabo Verde (75th), Ghana (76th), Benin (78th), Burkina Faso, and Ivory Coast (79th), Guinea (80th), Senegal, and Togo (81st), Niger (82nd), Mali, and Guinea Bissau (83rd), and Liberia (87th).
Various factors, such as reciprocity, economic and sociopolitical stability, and tourism, contribute to changes in passport rankings, according to Dr. Juerg Steffen, CEO of Henley & Partners.
Ogbole Amedu-Ode, a former Nigerian Ambassador to Singapore, suggests that implementing stringent measures to combat drug-related crime and cybercrime, along with strengthening the economy, can enhance Nigeria’s reputation on the global stage.
Anthony Akuneme, the Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Immigration Service, believes that forging more beneficial bilateral agreements with other countries could further facilitate travel opportunities for Nigerians. Reciprocity plays a vital role in determining such agreements, where countries mutually grant visa-free access to each other’s citizens.