The Deputy President of the Nigerian Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, has called for a visa-free regime between Commonwealth nations, in order to promote stronger ties and ensure the organisation’s continued global relevance.
Ekweremadu made the comments during a presentation at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where he addressed the issue: `The Role of Parliamentarians in Building Stronger Ties Within the Commonwealth: Including New Trade Issues, Visa Issues, Travel Restrictions, and Non-tariff Restrictions’.
He stressed that the free movement of citizens across Commonwealth borders was key to building a closer network between member states.
As an example of introducing the measure for certain categories of passport holders, Ekweremadu cited the already-established visa-free regime Nigeria has with South Africa for citizens holding diplomatic and official passports.
Ekweremadu also pointed out that Commonwealth citizens in West Africa were part of a visa-free system among member nations, due to a general policy of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Promoting mutual socio-economic and political development of member states could also be achieved by sanctioning travel and trade agreements, the Deputy President said, with parliamentarians pushing for relevant legislation and international partnerships.
He called on national parliaments to establish focus committees on trade issues, visa and travel restrictions, and non-tariff restrictions in order to promote an environment for economic growth.
Stronger diplomacy and parliamentary friendship groups among Commonwealth countries would also benefit participants, according to Ekweremadu.
The Nigerian Deputy President said: “Economic restrictions against any Commonwealth state for any reason should be subject to confirmation by parliament, not by Executive Orders.
“It is also time to push for economic partnership protocols among Commonwealth nations.”
His recommendations were endorsed by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference, which took place on November 1-8, 2017.
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