Regional News of Saturday, 12 July 2014
International relations expert, Dr. Vladimir Antwi Danso, is warning of dire consequences should ECOWAS scrap resident permits for West African citizens in ECOWAS countries.
The proposal is part of issues discussed at an ECOWAS mid-year review meeting in Accra. A common biometric ID card is also to be considered.
All fifteen ECOWAS heads of states, as well as leaders from other regional blocks, are expected at the deliberations.
However, Dr Antwi Danso warns scrapping the need for resident permits without any proper regulatory structures could have both economic and political repercussions.
He believes movement of people still needs to be regulated within West Africa’s quest to ensure regional integration.
“Getting countries together to form an integrated group does not necessarily mean one part of the group should just move unmarked. Come to think of a situation where say the Nigerian economy is booming, it is the tenets of integration and the pull factors that will push people there but it doesn’t mean we should all go there without any permit.”
He emphasized, “We need to use the necessary approaches especially the infrastructure and the necessary convergence criteria that will be able to sustain a common market and so on.”
Dr Vladimir Antwi Danso also warned that allowing unregulated residential permission could give fertile grounds for terrorist insurgents to spread quickly into safe countries across West Africa.
“From the Sahel all the way to Burkina Faso and in several parts of west Africa, the dust has not settled. And if you open the doors for free movement the way we are talking about it, we are in trouble," he cautioned.
He added that the leaders had to marry issues of security with the free movement of people around the region.