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African CSOs urged to speak with one voice ahead of 2024 GFMD summit

*as Nigerian govt, ECOWAS, IOM laud key role of CSOs in promoting better migration governance

By Michael Oche

The key roles of African Civil Society Organizations and Diaspora networks in promoting better migration governance was a major talking point on Monday as the capacity building workshop for African CSOs on Global migration processes and frameworks, kicked off in Abuja.

Also, ahead of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) coming up in 2024, African CSOs have been urged to work collectively to provide a synergized position that would be beneficial for the continent.

Representatives from the Nigerian government, International Organization for Migration (IOM), Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), ECOWAS, FES in their different goodwill messages at the opening certain of the workshop, pledged better collaboration with the CSOs to ensure they continue in their advocacy work of promoting orderly migration.

Our Correspondent reports that the 3 days workshop is hosted by Pan African Network in Defense of Migrants Rights (PANiDMR) with support from ITUC-Africa.

Hon Imaan Sulaiman-Ibrahim, the Federal Commissioner, National Commission For Refugees, Migrant and Internally Displace Persons (NCFRMI) while declaring the workshop opened, said CSOs are an important component of migration management, noting that this is exemplified by the roles they play both at the design and implementation phases of every migration policy.

Ibrahim, who was represented by Barrister Grace Ofonime Ukpong , said the role of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in migration governance in Nigeria and the world over cannot be overemphasized.

She said, “In Nigeria, migration governance adopts a whole-of-society approach, bringing together stakeholders from the government (national and sub-national), the academia, the private sector and the civil society. Migration-focused CSOs in Nigeria, have been actively involved in policy formation, return, and reintegration and several forms of migrant assistance, including early recovery, family tracing, temporal shelter and psychosocial support, as well as research, awareness-raising, joint advocacy, training, and capacity building.

“It is noteworthy, that in recent times, the flagship migration awareness raising event of the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI), the National Migration Dialogue, was co-hosted by civil society, under the auspices of the Civil Society Network on Migration and Development (CSOnetMADE) in 2021.

“This unique collaboration, showcased the Nigerian government’s readiness to work in partnership with civil society towards effective migration governance. The first CSO Day, as a precursor to the dialogue, was instituted in 2021, and this was replicated in 2022 with appreciable success.”

Speaking on the GFMD summit scheduled for 2024, the Federal Commissioner said, “The Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) is a platform for influencing migration policy direction at the global level; and as the GFMD is co-chaired by sub-Saharan Africa in 2023, it is imperative that African countries work collectively to provide a synergized position of our migration realities, control our narrative and chart a way forward that would be beneficial for the continent and ensure that the world takes notice and begin to take us seriously.”

Also speaking, general secretary of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Emmanuel Ogboaja said the Congress is elated by the mission of the organisers of the workshop to strengthen members and other stakeholders’ capacity in fulfillment of its mandate and to discuss extensively migration issues as it affects Africa in relation to GCM and GFMD.

The general secretary, who was represented by Comrade James Eustace, the NLC Focal Person on Migration, noted that the Congress is “readily available to be active in the 2023 GFMD process as an opportunity to bring to bear and advocate our concerns towards the GFMD Summit in early 2024.”

He said, “For us in the NLC, we are committed to the ideals being pursued by the organisers in realizing the African agenda in relation to the protocol of free movement, AfCFTA and RECs.”

The IOM chief of mission in Nigeria, Mr. Laurent De Boeck in his address said the IOM is committed to support the efforts of all actors to protect migrants rights and to make migration human and orderly, thus contributing to the development of communities and societies.

According to him, the Global Compact on Migration calls for a whole-of-government, whole-of society approach to achieving its objectives, adding that this means engaging everyone in designing and evaluating policies for good migration governance, ensuring that migrants and diasporas contribute to sustainable development.

He explained that “IOM recognises Africans’ immense human capital and material resources in the diasporas towards the continent’s overall socio-economic, cultural and _ political development. It is key to recognize the African Civil Society’s vital role in harnessing these.”

Also speaking, the Director, social setvices and humanitarian affairs at the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Sintiki Tarfa Ugbe noted that the ECOWAS Commission is very much aware of the importance of the Civil Society as a ‘core pillar’ in regional integration.

He pledged that the Commission will always be committed and supportive of every effort towards the mobilisation and coordination of the activities of the Civil Society in the region for maximal impact.

He said, “The Commission is keen to explore every avenue to involve the Civil Society Organisations and other stakeholders in the popularisation and implementation of the Vision. Already we have developed a draft ECOWAS Non-State Actors Engagement Strategy awaiting validation.”

He disclosed that at the heart of the new ECOWAS Vision 2050 is “a community of peoples fully integrated in a peaceful, prosperous region, with strong institutions that respect fundamental freedoms and work for inclusive and sustainable development.”

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