Nigerians on Twitter have asked President Muhammadu Buhari to end the country’s relationship with the British Commonwealth over what they described as exploitation.
The Commonwealth, which has become unpopular and is viewed as a colonial relic used to wield neo-colonial attachments to former British colonies by the United Kingdom, comprises 54 member nations in Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Pacific.
Nigeria first joined the commonwealth in 1960 after gaining independence from the British and remained a member until 1995 when it was suspended from the bloc after a 'serious violation of the principles set out in the Harare Declaration', including the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and 10 others during the military era.
The suspension at the time excluded Nigeria from receiving any new Commonwealth technical assistance – such as agricultural training which took place in 1993 - and also prevented government representatives from participating in inter-governmental Commonwealth meetings and events.
The country was restored as a member of the Commonwealth when it transitioned to democratic rule in 1999.
Despite Nigeria being a member of the bloc, travel and conducting business and education for Nigerians and other member countries remain laborious while the UK and other Commonwealth countries such as Australia and Canada find it easier to access these services in Nigeria.
Students, who wish to undertake studies in the UK, Australia, Canada and some other countries in the Commonwealth are required to take the International English Language Tests despite English being the official language in Nigeria.
Nigerians, who also wish to migrate to Commonwealth nations face rigorous processes, which in most cases lead to visa denial; a fate that does not befall citizens in some member nations like Canada, Ghana and Australia.
Apart from its 1995 intervention over the violation of human rights in Nigeria, the Commonwealth and its member countries have in recent times kept mum on rights violations and the escalation of insurgency in Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari.
In a poll conducted by SaharaReporters to sample the opinion of Nigeria’s on what they thought of this relationship, 59.7 per cent of respondents voted in favour of ending Nigeria’s membership of the Commonwealth while 11.3 per cent voted that the country’s membership of the bloc should continue because it was beneficial.
However, 29 per cent opted for the “I don’t care” option.
A total of 1,238 people took part in the poll.