Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola has criticised the continent’s restrictions on the movement of goods and people.
He further disclosed that insurgency in the Sahel region was one of the reasons Nigeria was reluctant to rectify the free movement protocol, adding that the country had introduced a visa-on-arrival policy to ease movement in the country.
The Minister assured the African Union of Nigeria’s willingness to work with the organisation to achieve free movement of people within West African countries.
A statement on Wednesday by the Ministry’s Director of Press, Afonja Ajibola, said Aregbesola gave the assurance while playing host to African Union delegations who paid him a courtesy call in Abuja.
The statement partly read:
The Minister wondered why humans should confine themselves in one place while other smaller creatures can freely move from one boundary to the next without hindrance.
He stated that the delegations should be rest assured that he is a partner in the realisation of the protocol of free movement of persons, goods, and services across the sub-region.
Aregbesola, on the other hand, stated that the bloody aftermath of insurgencies, which posed a major threat to the realisation of the free movement protocol, particularly in countries in the Sahel region, makes Nigeria hesitant to amend the protocol.
He added that the ousting of the Libyan leader brought about a security breach in Nigeria via the proliferation of arms, leading to full-blown insurgencies.
Aregbesola said in furtherance of the realisation of free movement across the sub-region, the Nigerian government has introduced a visa-on-arrival policy to expedite movement.’
The Permanent Secretary, Dr. Shuaib Belgore, said the Nigerian government’s hesitance to implement the protocol was largely due to insecurity, but he assured the team that consultation is ongoing with other stakeholders on actualising the free movement of persons and goods across the region.
Earlier in her remarks, the leader of the delegation, Rita Amokhobu, stated that their visit is to inform the Minister of the outcome of their visit to the Benin-Seme border, which she said has accorded them the opportunity to gather information on how Nigeria complies with the treaty of the African Union on the free movement of persons and goods.