Nigeria adopts entry visa for African countries.

Nigeria says it will grant visas to all African travelers upon arrival from January 2020, removing the requirement to apply in advance at its embassies abroad.

President Muhammadu Buhari said this shows Nigeria’s commitment to “the free movement of Africans in Africa”.The announcement comes five months after Nigeria signed an agreement to promote free trade on the continent.

But critics of Mr. Buhari accuse him of being protectionist, undermining the vision of pan-African unity. It has kept Nigeria’s land borders closed with all of its neighbors since August, preventing businesses from trading cross-border by road.

Buhari dismissed pressure to lift the blockade, saying it was aimed to stop the smuggling of goods to Nigeria and to make the nation self-sufficient, especially in food production.

The borders have been closed despite the fact that Nigeria is part of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a regional bloc of 15 countries that has texts that allow its 350 million citizens to travel without a visa to the regional zone.

Buhari gave no indication of when the blockade will be lifted when he announced the government’s latest visa policy for African passport holders.

Nigeria and ECOWAS

In pursuing the goal of regional economic cooperation and development, Nigeria helped create ECOWAS, which seeks to harmonise trade and investment practices for its 16 West African member countries and ultimately to achieve a full customs union.

Nigeria also has taken the lead in articulating the views of developing nations on the need for modification of the existing international economic order.

Nigeria has played a central role in the ECOWAS efforts to end the civil war in Liberia and contributed the bulk of the ECOWAS peacekeeping forces sent there in 1990.

Nigeria also has provided the bulk of troops for ECOMOG forces in Sierra Leone. Nigeria has enjoyed generally good relations with its immediate neighbours.

By Subiru Madina