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Nigerians laud AU passport, make case for integration


Concern mounts over FG’s slow implementation

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By Lukmon Akintola

Nigerians have applauded African leaders over the newly launched African Union (AU) passport, which is geared towards promoting regional integration and unity among the 54 member states.

The AU passport, which was launched recently at the 27th ordinary summit of the African Union summit that was held at Kigali, Rwanda, remains a landmark success for the international organization as it is a means to ensure all African citizens can travel across the continent without visas.

The Difference learnt that the newly launched AU passport, which is aimed at creating seamless borders in Africa, is a fulfillment of Aspiration 2, subsection 19 of the organization’s Agenda 2063 aspirations and this will in-turn foster unity and free flow of goods and services among member states.

Commenting on the AU passport, Oluwatosin Ajimoti, a member of the UN Group on Children and Youth, who spoke to our correspondent in a phone chat from the ongoing UNCTAD conference in Kenya, noted that the new AU passport is a welcome development that will aid true regional integration as intended by the founding fathers of the organization.

“For me, the new AU passport is a welcome development. I am a firm believer in integration at both the regional and sub regional levels. Integration means easy and free flow of trade and people, which leads to development and this is what the new passport symbolizes” she said.

Oluwatosin also submits that “building sustainable institutions should be paramount, but that is a process that will take place over a period of time. That is what AU is trying to achieve with her Agenda 2063.”

Also speaking with our correspondent on the AU passport was Temidayo Musa, a Global Youth Ambassador, who described the initiative by African leaders as a laudable move towards ensuring greater development in Africa.

“The new AU passport is a laudable move by African leaders towards achieving economic development in the continent. It is also a great step towards uniting Africans, For example, Morocco is set to reapply to join AU. It is also believed that this is a fitting step for the AU as it moves to build formidable institutions in the continent,” He noted

In addition, Temidayo explained certain areas African leaders need to attend to, in other for the newly launched AU passport not to be dead on arrival.

“In Africa, there is some level of discrimination among member states, where some states believe they are better off than others. Like the xenophobic issues in some part of Africa, I wonder why such inhumane acts should still find their roots in Africa. Nevertheless, I believe the framers of the idea behind the AU passport know the trajectory they want to follow in solving Africa’s numerous problems.

“It must also be considered that the ratification of this idea by local legislatures will be based on what they think their states will gain or lose from ratifying such a policy. Since the AU passport will relax some of their border control policies, some countries might not be swift to implement it in the wake of rising terrorist acts in the continent, while some states will be swift to implement due to economic gains. However, if some of these issues are not well handled, the AU passport will just be dead on arrival” he explained.
The Difference learnt that already, Rwanda and Mauritius have ratified the AU passport in their constitutions. It was also gathered that the Chadian President, Idris Debby and Rwandan President, Paul Kagame have been given the new AU passport, while other Head of states and diplomats were also given theirs at the summit. It is believed that by 2018, all African citizens should have their own AU passport and that this will in-turn aid greater regional integration.

Monsuru Olaitan Rasaq, a political analyst, however takes a contrary position from others as he believed the AU passport is being launched at a wrong time, when the African continent is experiencing lots of security challenges.

“The AU passport is a welcome development for the African continent but this is a wrong time. I am of the opinion that making the existing institutions more effective should be the first move. Most states in Africa will be reluctant to implement this initiative as they will not trade away the security of their citizens for anything.” he explained.

Monsuru also made it known that the British exit from the European Union (EU) will not affect Africa’s unity as the ideologies that underpin the integration of African countries to form AU is totally different from the ideologies that led to the formation of the EU.

“The British plan to exit the EU will not in any way affect Africa’s unity. This stems from the fact EU was formed on the basis economic integration where it was formerly called European Economic Community (EEC) and Britain did not at first join the organization. It was the test of time that made Britain join the organization. But the formation of the AU is a different ball game, because it is formed based on the tenets of unity, decolonization and development,” he said.

As the time of filing this report, nothing cogent has been said about Nigeria’s effort to formally adopt the newly launched AU passport. All efforts by our correspondent to reach the Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs proved abortive.


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