Following complaints from some ECOWAS-member countries that their citizens for intra border trades were being denied free entry, against free border entry protocol agreement, the organisation has come out with a programme that will put an end to the mistrust among the 14-member body.
It said it is streamlining the movement of both humans and animals, through introduction of International Transhumance Certificate (ITC).
This will not only solve the problem of clashes in border trading, but will proffer solutions to cases of cattle rustlng among herdsmen from neighbouring countries.
The measure will also help officials to effectively monitor movement of both humans and animals for trading and grazing purposes, according to ECOWAS Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources, Mr Tchambakou Ayassor, on Thursday.
It was reported that before the end of 2016, some neighbouring countries to Nigeria had alleged that the richest economy in the sub-region was not allowing easy entry to their citizens, in violation to the ECOWAS protocol.
But reports have persistently stated that Nigeria has one of the most porous borders, compared with other developing countries of the world.
Also, the communication unit of the body told a Ghana News Agency in Accra, that aside from ECOWAS being in possession of information on the border trades, farmers in the region and stakeholders in the transhumance sub-sector are to enjoy freedom from violence at all borders after the new measure would have been put in place .
Similar concerns were earlier expressed by the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Marcel de South, while giving his report at the First Ordinary Session of the 4th Legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament in May 2016.
But despite these benefits, the transhumance livestock production system had challenges of transboundary animal diseases, socio-political upheavals, and in some instances environmental degradation where there is a lack of appropriate regulation.
It could be recalled that in May, 1998, the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government adopted a policy for “Member States on transhumance in accordance with Article 25 of its Revised Treaty relating to the cooperation between Member States to ensure agricultural development, achieve food security, enhance the environment for livestock.”
The Western corridor stretches along the coastal cities including Senegal, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia as well as Mauritania, the Central Corridor runs through Mali, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Togo while the Eastern corridor comprises Niger, Burkina Faso, Benin, and Nigeria.
But an International Relations expert, Dr. Reuben Utah, of the National Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) argues that it is Nigeria that is bound to bear the brunt of a free-border entry of citizens from other countries, as planned by ECOWAS.
“Given the insurgency in the north east part of the country, it will be unfair to expect Nigeria will further flag its porous borders more open to all manners of people to come into the county, ” he said.
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