THE Nigerian Government is pushing for major reforms in the Commonwealth of Nations to reflect the globalised world and enhance the development of member States.
One of such reforms is to introduce free movement within member Nations through the adoption of visa-free migration policy.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, while speaking at the Commonwealth Observance Day on Monday in Abuja, insisted that there should be a situation where members could move freely within the member Nations without visa-restriction.
He said the disbandment of the travel visa was proposed 10 years ago during one of its meetings in London.
Onyeama added this was one of the transformative ideas that Nigeria has proposed to members of the Commonwealth, with a view to ensuring the Commonwealth was much more relevant to the youths in member countries, especially in the globalised world.
He was represented by the Director European Affairs, Mr Oluremi Oluide, saying there was the need for member counties to put into consideration, a sustainable migration policy which is reciprocal, legal and addresses equal rights.
“Nigeria went to the extent of letting the Commonwealth know that as a people, we should begin to think of the possibility of everyone within the Commonwealth community to be able to travel within the member nations without the use of visas.
“Nigeria suggested to the Commonwealth about 10 years ago in London that indeed the Commonwealth can begin that exercise by using diplomatic visas, then standard visas and using that as a pilot to the common visas such that the Commonwealth becomes much relevant to the needs of the people.
“It is part of our connectedness, therefore, there is no doubt that the theme of the 70th anniversary, the connected Commonwealth will open up ideas we have to explore at an interconnected Commonwealth to ensure that we take a look at sustainable migration in the Commonwealth,” he said.
Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, also said the planned exit of Britain from the European Union, presented an opportunity to strengthen the Commonwealth of Nations, which has its 53 members drawn from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, North America, the Pacific and Europe.
He added that the theme of this year’s celebration; “A Connected Commonwealth” was at the heart of the founding principles and aspirations these sovereign countries who share a common colonial heritage under the leadership of the United Kingdom.
He added that the cardinal desire under this year’s theme was to encourage collaboration to protect the natural resources and the environment especially following the adoption in 2018 of Commonwealth Blue Charter of the Ocean which connects many member countries.
“The Blue Charter is intended to promote a fair, equitable, inclusive and sustainable approach to Ocean economic development and protection from the effects of climate change, pollution and overfishing,” he said.
Queen Elizabeth II, and Head of the Commonwealth, in her message to mark the occasion, said Commonwealth citizens could look to the future greater confidence and optimism as a result of the links shared by member Nations.
She added that the Commonwealth Day has a special significance this year as it marked the 70th anniversary of the London Declaration when nations of the Commonwealth agreed to move forward together as free and equal members.
She said vision and sense of connection that inspired the signatories has stood the test of time, and the Commonwealth continues to grow, adapting to address contemporary needs.
Part of her message reads: “We are able to look to the future with greater confidence and optimism as a result of the links that we share, and thanks to the networks of cooperation and mutual support to which we contribute, and on which we draw.
“With enduring commitment through times of great change, successive generations have demonstrated that whilst the goodwill for which the Commonwealth is renowned may be intangible, its impact is very real.
“We experience this as people of all backgrounds continue to find new ways of expressing through action the value of belonging in a connected Commonwealth.
“I hope and trust that many more will commit to doing so this Commonwealth Day,” she said.