Despite its risk of boat capsides, Nigeria still has a high record of migration to Europe by the sea via North Africa. According to a recent report by UN International Organisation for Migration (IOM), about 9,000 migrants from Nigeria arrived in Italy through the Mediterranean Sea in 2014. A research officer with the organisation, Tara Brian, said at a conference on National Migration Policy Thematic Areas organised by IOM that Nigeria was the fourth top country of origin for people arriving in Italy in 2014.
She said that of the number, 557 were minors while 78 per cent were male. She said that Nigeria was also the fifth top country of origin of arrivals to Europe across the Mediterranean in 2014. The IOM official also said there were no fewer than 3,000 Nigerian arrivals in Italy from January to the end of April 2015.
In his presentation, a migration expert, Professor Adepoju Aderanti, said Nigerians abroad constituted the population of about seven African countries, adding that it is not surprising considering the country’s population.
Aderanti, however, said that Nigerians in Diaspora could be potential development tools for the country. He said that the remittances of Nigerians abroad was about 25 billion dollars annually, saying it overtook direct foreign investment and was second to oil revenue.
“An average African who migrates ultimately wishes to return home but returning home depends on the situation at home. Some Africans in Diaspora want to come back home but the circumstances at home in many countries are not encouraging,” he said.
Aderanti called on the Federal Government to make migration a win-win-win situation for the migrants, the origin and destination countries through policies to attract remittance flows like tax holidays. He also called for policies to woo Diaspora engagements like establishing a Diaspora commission and reviewing bilateral migration agreements with destination countries in favour of Nigeria.
Aderanti commended Nigeria for being the first country in Africa to adopt a National Policy on Migration. A representative of the UN Resident Coordinator, Jean Gough, commended the Federal Government for adopting the National Policy on Migration.
Gough said Nigeria was a major country of origin, transit and destination within the West African sub-region and globally. She said having a legal framework for the governance of migration was an important step and a major achievement in managing the multi-faceted challenges of migration and taking hold of the opportunities. “It is an established fact that Nigeria’s Diaspora contributes significantly to the Nigerian economy through remittances and the transfer of skills and knowledge. We are also confronted with the reality that many migrants travel irregularly for “better opportunities abroad. This sometimes results in tragedies as recently shown in the deaths of thousands of migrants on the Mediterranean Sea,” she said.
By Pita Ochai