Though countries routinely deport illegal foreign nationals and migrants, news of the arrival of Nigerian deportees from various countries have become pervasive of late. In 2017, according to the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP, no fewer than 1,134 Nigerians illegally residing abroad have been deported from Libya, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, Mali, the United States, some member-countries of the European Union and Asia.

The 171 Nigerians returnees from Libya on touch-down at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos yesterday. Photos by Lamidi Bamidele.

This number is expected to increase as the globalisation trend of the past two decades appears to have hit a rebound phase. Many countries are embracing economic nationalism, and the steady influx of undocumented foreign nationals is giving rise to increased xenophobia. Since the vast majority of these deportees are youthful persons under 45 years of age, it becomes clear that our inability to plan and accommodate the needs of our rising population has become a major source of nuisance to the world beyond our borders.

The development ought to be a source of embarrassment to the government and people of Nigeria. More and more of our people are persuaded to leave the country as a result of plummeting socio-economic, security and political factors.

Worsening socio-economic circumstances whose symptoms include rising food prices, poor health facilities, poor housing, deplorable public infrastructure and overstretched transportation services particularly in the urban centres, have contributed largely to this unsavoury trend. Other factors include rising instability in the polity with attendant threats to security; comatose education system and lack of gainful job opportunities.

We urge the Federal Government to work harder on programmes that will increase survival opportunities in Nigeria. The country is blessed with vast potentials which have remained untapped because of lazy, corrupt and unimaginative political leadership. The Muhammadu Buhari administration should give all Nigerians a greater sense of belonging. The real or apparent trend of nepotism and selective justice are factors that do not enhance faith in the country, neither do they encourage the citizens to make necessary sacrifices for nation-building.

More efforts should be made to drive the economy out of recession and recover thousands of jobs lost  in the past two years to stem the tide of wilful emigration. It is important for Nigerians to be reoriented to the fact that there is no greener pasture than the Nigerian pasture nurtured by Nigerians. It is only in Nigeria that a Nigerian can enjoy his or her full rights and human dignity.

We commend the efforts of NAPTIP, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and others who have demonstrated unwavering commitment to preventing illegal migration and rehabilitating victims of deportation. However, their efforts are mere palliatives. We must tackle the root causes of emigration.


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