OrderPaperToday – The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has tasked Parliamentarians from Commonwealth countries on a visa-free regime.
According to Ekweremadu, such ease-free travel would create stronger ties in the Commonwealth and would help “transcend the realms of lip service, insular, and protective tendencies” for the organisation to remain relevant.
He made this call on Monday in a lead presentation at the ongoing Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
In a statement released his Special Adviser on Media, he said: “Free movement of citizens across Commonwealth borders is key to building stronger ties amongst member states. National parliaments should, therefore, champion visa-free regime for Commonwealth citizens.
“This may begin with certain categories of passport holders. Presently, Nigeria has a visa-free regime with South Africa for citizens with diplomatic and official passports”.
Ekweremadu buttressed his point further by explaining that citizens of Commonwealth in West Africa were already enjoying a visa-free regime among member nations, though as a general policy of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS.
The recommendation which was well received and endorsed by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference, according to the statement.
The lawmaker also urged national parliaments of Commonwealth nations to do more in ratifying travel and trade agreements entered into by the executive arm of their countries, especially where Commonwealth countries are involved.
The lawmaker said since sovereignty resides with the people, it was only natural for the people’s representatives to be at the centre of building the principles, modalities, legal frameworks, institutions, and international partnerships for providing and promoting mutual socio-economic and political development of member nations.
“Parliamentarians should push for relevant legislations to create environments that guarantee smooth and seamless trade agreements amongst member nations.
“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,” he said.