By Obioma C. Appolos
The African Trade Union Migration Network (ATUMNET), a coalition of trade unions in Africa, leading the campaign for improve migration governance has commended Nigeria’s decision to commence a visa on arrival policy for all Africans.
The Network described the news as a welcome development and a firm commitment towards Africa’s integration, saying the policy will further boost the free movement of Africans to and from Nigeria into Africa.
It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had announced Nigeria’s willingness to commence the visa on arrival arrangement from January 2020 during the Aswan conference.
The ATUMNET which has been leading the campaign for free visa policy across Africa had in August this year written an appeal letter to African governments whose countries have not approved the commencement of the visa on arrival to consider doing so.
Reacting to the new policy, ITUC- Africa Deputy General Secretary, Comrade Akhator Joel Odigie enthused that “the announcement of visa on arrival from January 2020 is good news for Nigeria and Africa culturally, economically, politically and diplomatically. It’s another feat for Africa’s integration”.
He said, “Some of the campaign arguments of the ATUMNET include: adopting a visa on arrival policy or the preferred one of total visa abolition for All Africans moving within the continent will enhance and accelerate and deepen ideas and innovative thinking; increase resource movement; boost energies, skills, and competencies mobility and dispersal, as well as promote cultural diffusion and integration; engender tolerance and peace.
“Further, promoting any of these visa arrangements is compatible with the provisions contained in the African Union’s Free Movement Policy adopted in January 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda.”
He said in fact, African nations agreed at a meeting of the AU in 2015 to scrap visa requirements for all African citizens by 2018, but that has not happened
Also speaking on the issue, comrade James Eustace, coordinator of the Nigerian Trade Union Migration Platform also commended the Nigerian government and urged them, especially the Nigerian Immigration Service to put in place the necessary mechanisms for the smooth and professional rollout of the policy.
It would be recallee that a research released by the African Development Bank (ADB) last month shows that out of Africa’s 54 countries, the five with the best “visa openness” policies were Seychelles, Benin, Senegal, Rwanda and Ghana.
The five worst countries in 2019 were Equatorial Guinea, Libya, Sudan, Eritrea and South Sudan.