The Deputy Majority Leader, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, has underscored the need for free movement within the ECOWAS sub-region to be done within a framework that ensures the safety of member states’ borders and their stability.
With conflicts and jihadist insurgencies raging across the sub-region, the lawmaker believes that member states, including Ghana, have become increasingly wary of people who troop into their country.
This, he claims, has resulted in increased checks and scrutiny at various sub-regional borders.
“Free movement is something we should all embrace after all, one of the bona fides of getting ECOWAS in place was to create that atmosphere where as a sub-region we’ll not be limited by borders. But also, member countries have their challenges.
“The challenge of security, the challenge of political instability, so you’d realise that member states are also finding ways of controlling the free movement in a manner that they can manage so that they know who is coming in, what purpose, why and all that,” he said.
Free movement across ECOWAS sub-region must be embraced – Afenyo-Markin
He added, “Member states or citizens of the sub-region are supposed to meet certain conditions if they’re trading in a member state. All these are very essential. To me as parliamentarians we should continue to create the awareness, let our citizens know the community protocols if they want to move from their home country to another we should be able to interact more and explain to our people but at the same time, we should also let our citizens appreciate the security challenges.”
He was speaking at the ECOWAS Parliament’s 2022 extraordinary session.
While free movement within the subregion is guaranteed, he stated that parliamentarians should work to educate their constituents about the limitations and protocols that accompany such free movement.
Meanwhile, he has stated that the instability of the Sahel countries is a major concern for Ghanaian authorities because it has the potential to spill over into the country, destabilizing Ghana as well.
“My country Ghana for instance is very much concerned about its northern border with Burkina Faso. The instability in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso is of great concern to Ghana and if we don’t control the influx, it would undermine our own security.
“So in this case, it cannot be that in controlling, or regulating, or seeing to it that you put in measures to prevent an influx you’re preaching community protocol of free movement. There’s an essential need to ensure that there is security in your own country so that people will not come in under the pretext of ECOWAS citizens to destabilise your country,” he said.