The Federal Government has assured the African Union (AU) of Nigeria’s readiness to partner with it, in achieving free movement of persons within the ECOWAS countries.
The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, gave the assurance when he played host to an AU delegation, which paid him a visit in Abuja.
This was made known in a statement by Mr Afonja Ajibola, the Deputy Director of Press and Public Relations in the ministry, on Wednesday in Abuja.
Aregbesola wondered why humans did not have the liberty to move from any place to wherever they desired, but other smaller creatures could move freely from one boundary to the other without any hindrance.
He therefore assured the delegation of the Federal Government’s commitment to the partnership, aimed at realisation of the ECOWAS protocol of free movement of persons, goods and services across the sub-region.
The minister however, said insurgencies and other conflicts, which posed a major threat to the protocol, especially in countries within the Sahel region, discouraged Nigeria from rectifying the protocol.
He said that the ousting of Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, breached Nigeria’s security, following the proliferation of arms that led to full blown insurgencies.
The minister added that in furtherance to the realisation of free movement across the sub-region, Nigerian government introduced the Visa on Arrival policy, to expedite movement.
In his remarks, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Dr Shuaib Belgore, also reiterated that the Nigerian government’s hesitance to implementing the protocol, was largely because of insecurity.
Belgore, however, assured the delegation that consultations were ongoing with other stakeholders over actualising free movement of persons and goods across the region.
Earlier, the leader of the delegation, Rita Amokhobu, said that the purpose of the visit was to inform the minister of the outcome of their visit to the Benin-Seme border.
According to Amokhobu, it has accorded them the opportunity to gather information on how Nigeria complies with the AU treaty on free movement of persons and goods.
She commended the Federal Government for mounting facilities at the country’s borders, which encouraged movements across the entry points.
Amokhobu however, pointed out that most of these gadgets were not functional due to erratic power supply at the borders.