Nigeria has the fifth largest number of citizens crossing to Europe, the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons has said. The Federal Commissioner of the Commission, Hajia Hadiza Kangiwa, stated this at a Conference on National Migration Policy Thematic Areas in Abuja on Wednesday. Kangiwa said Nigerian youths transited through the Sahara desert in search of greener pastures.
“Information available indicates that Nigeria has the fifth highest number of citizens who cross the Mediterranean in the bid to search for greener pastures. “There is anecdotal evidence, which indicates that Nigeria has the highest number of migrants flow within the ECOWAS sub-region”, she said. According to her, however, Nigeria has realised the potential benefit of migration to national development.
Kangiwa said the potential benefit of migration to national development, therefore, spurred the need to elaborate on a National Migration Policy to provide coherence on migration issues. She explained that the Federal Executive Council had, on May 13, 2015, approved the National Migration Policy. According to her, the approval of the policy comes at a time when the global community is yearning for constructive migration policies that promote the rights of migrants.
The commissioner said the policy provided strategies for improved management of migration to encourage regular migration as against irregular migration. She added that the policy would promote social integration and national identity, re-orientate against xenophobic tendencies and mitigate recurring incidence of migrant boat mishaps, among others. Kangiwa thanked International Organisation for Migration (IOM) for its expertise and consistency in the promotion of better migration management in Nigeria.
The UN IOM Chief of Mission, Ms Enira Krdzalic, congratulated Nigerians for adopting the National Migration Policy and its Implementation Framework. “With over 170 million citizens, Nigeria is important in migration management as a country of origin, transit and destination for migrants. “Nigeria faces challenges such as effective Diaspora engagement and remittances, inter-regional, rural-urban migration flows, migration of highly skilled and unskilled labour, and trafficking in persons, to mention a few.”
Krdzalic, however, said in spite of the approved National Migration Policy by Nigeria, IOM believed that policy works best when driven by research and supported with evidence. According to her, IOM is supporting Nigeria in this regard by bringing researchers and policy makers together to share evidence-based information to improve overall migration management. According to IOM, between 1991 and 2005, the number of immigrants residing in Nigeria rose from 477,135 to 971,450, indicating about 50 per cent increase in 14 years.
The ECOWAS protocol on free movement within the West Africa sub-region and other cross border movements have contributed to increasing number of immigrants into the country. According to the 2009 Nigeria Migration Profile, about 74 per cent of all immigrants living in Nigeria were from other ECOWAS countries. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that the two-day conference drew participants from the academics, government and international governmental and non-governmental organisations.