The Controller -General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Mr Muhammad Babandede, has called for a balance between trade facilitation and border security.
Babandede made the call at the 16th Border Regions in Transition Conference held at the University of Ibadan, Oyo State.
The theme of the conference,” North -South Dialogue on Border Management “, was organised by the Peace and Strategic Studies of the University of Ibadan in conjunction with the Universite d’Abomey-Calvi, Cotonu, Benin Republic.
He said the term border was gradually becoming a political problem, and wondered how the South will talk when it is the North that set the arbitrary borders.
“One of the bitter but lasting legacy of colonial rule in Africa is the international colonial boundaries. Border control is the issue of national sovereignty, national security, safe economy and cultural protection.
`’That explains the reason for nationalism wall building, emergence of new government which is a political toy,” he said.
According to Babandede, as Africans we must help the North collectively from having extreme government, the North needs labour due to aging population and migrants do not have to die in the desert or sea.
He disclosed that Europe alone is currently absorbing two million migrants annually which, he said, was too much to cope with.
He noted that the trend might increase by 40 per cent in the next 40 years, according to the United Nations’ prediction.
“Africa is the greatest concern of the UN because our border is their border, the key issue for elections — North-South dialogue on border management — requires a frank talk.
”Unless we dialogue, walls will be built because of certain concern, we need to dialogue to find out how migrants from the South can walk in the North legally.”
The comptroller-general, however, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the approval of visa on arrival for Africans, saying modalities are being worked out.
”By implication, our borders are opening more between the South-South. Our borders are wide open to those government investors who will bring industries rather than buy our raw materials,” Babandede said.
He called on all stakeholders in the security sector to be more proactive and contribute to the formulation of policies on borders and security.
“The border areas in this part of the world are very peculiar. The outcome of this conference will boost efforts of Nigeria to identify, harmonize policies and a leader in the international community.”
Declaring the conference open, Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, said it was pertinent to address the centrifugal and centripetal forces responsible for human trans-border migration.
Represented by Deputy Governor, Mr Moses Adeyemo, he said the trend was aided by the free movement across borders and that it had created huge security threats in the sub-region.
“Traffickers, terrorists and armed bandits, among others, have taken advantage of the free movement to traverse the sub-regional borders without major challenges.
” Consequently, this forum is expected to offer tremendous boost to current global and domestic efforts to identify, analyze and tackle frontally the threats and challenges associated with the trans-borders issues.
” The issues of proliferation of small ammunition and light weapons arising from persistent internal conflicts in some African countries in North Africa is equally worth considering,” he said.