AFRILAW: Stakeholders advocates free-border access among African states to foster growth, development

By Samuel Luka, Bauchi

Civil Society Organizations and other stakeholders have advocated that Africa must de-emphasize border demarcation among member states by opening her frontiers to all Africans in order to stimulate continental growth and development.

The call was contained in a communique of the 1st Mukosolu Chinwike-Okereke Memorial Colloquium on Migration in Africa as Chaired by retired Controller of Immigration Service, Chief Ekene Oko which was held at the main hall of the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus on Thursday.

Our Corresspondent reports that the event was organized by the African Law Foundation (AFRILAW), Enugu state in collaboration with the Nigerian Immigration Service and the National Human Rights Commission to mark the 2nd year rememberance of the late wife of the founder and CEO of AFRILAW.

The communique said CSOs and other stakeholders must step up advocacy to checkmate illegal migration, adding that engagement of expatriates should be properly regulated so as not to shortchange indigenous professionals in the labour market.

“Africa must de-emphasize border demarcation among member states and open its frontiers to all Africans to stimulate continental growth and development”, parts of the communique opined.

It advocated that policies to protect citizens who travel outside Nigeria must be put in place and be enforced.

The Aim and Strategic Objective of the Colloquium, according to the communique, was to advance social and economic development through public policy dialogue on labour migration, governance issues and promotion of the rights of migrant workers and their families in Nigeria.

With the Theme; “Labour Migration Governance and Migrant Workers Rights: Policies and Practices in Nigeria”, the communique said Keynote Paper was presented by Dr. Chidozie Edwin Nwafor, Associate Professor and Deputy Director, Center for Migration Studies, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State.

It noted that the participants were drawn from the academia, Ministry of Justice, International Federation of Women Lawyers, Ministry of Education, Federal Ministry of Labour and Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund.

The rest according to the communique include, distinguished officers of Nigeria Immigration Service, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, National Human Right Commission, Civil Society Organisation, Winners Chapel Youths, the Media, among others.

In his keynote paper, Dr. Chidozie Edwin Nwafor gave a brief background of the categories of migration and the need for Migration governance in the world which led to the emergence of the international organization for Migration (IOM).

He pointed out that the body provided a governance structure of Migration among Nations.

“The push factor is a major reason for Migration which explains the migration of both skilled and unskilled workers.
The IOM made the international convention on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant workers”, Dr. Nwafor explained.

According to him, the policy has not been domesticated in Nigeria and that there is the need for the stakeholders to lead advocacy to that regard.

Dr. Nwafor noted that the denial of human rights of Migrants can lead to a psyco- social problems, stressing the need for CSOs and other stakeholders to organize seminars to that regards.

Dr. Nwafor who said that there is a National Labour Policy that provided for immigrants to be educated on their rights, noted however that, in Nigeria the provision has not been implemented to the later.

He said there was the need to increase sensitization to discourage illegal migration and strengthen advocacy for the policies that will improve the living conditions of migrants whether within Nigeria or outside.

Dr. Nwafor who called for the provision and expansion of National Migration Information bank, opined that when the rights of migrant workers are upheld it will improve their psyco-social wellbeing.

Panellists & Participants at the Colloquium identified two types of migrants, Regular and Irregular, stressed the need to strengthen boarders to check illegal migration.

The panelists observed discriminatory treatment given to Africans outside Nigeria as the reverse respect that Africans show Westerners, pointing out time has come for all citizens to be interested in issues of Migration especially as it concerns their welfare.

“Decisions pertaining to migration must have the respect and regards for Human rights. There is an existence of a strong governance standard of immigration in Nigeria, but the lapse is in the exercise of discretion in enforcement”, the Communique noted.

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