Nexus between migration and development
THE outward stream is always steady with a huge backlog of eager youths waiting to procure visa to jet out of the country. Some who could not afford to go through normal routes are ever ready to go through the arduous and risky Sahara desert routes, just to seek greener pasture in Europe, America, Asia and even in the Carribean Islands.
Indeed, apparently due to parlous state of the economy and decaying infrastructure, human capital migration has continued to retard the development of the country as most of these people migrate to other countries in search of jobs that have become elusive in Nigeria.
Obviously, this phenomenon cannot go unchecked if the trend must be reversed, hence the decision of the country to key into the global debate on the impact and linkages between migration and development.
The Nigerian Annual National Migration Dialogue was conceived as a strategy for mainstreaming migration into the post 2015 development agenda. The initiative is a derivation of the draft national migration policy document which drew inspirations from the UN High level dialogue [HLD] and the Global Forum on Migration and Development [GFMD] as well as the Migration Dialogue in West Africa [MIDWA] at the sub regional level.
The Project is being funded by the Global Programme on Migration and Development [GPMD] of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation [SCDC], a governmental agency of the Swiss government within the framework of the Migration Partnership between Nigeria and Switzerland aimed at strengthening the cooperation between the two countries in the specific area of migration and development.
Within the framework of this successful migration partnership, Switzerland is thus supporting Nigeria, through the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons as the coordinating agency for migration and development issues in Nigeria to ensure cohesion in the implementation of the draft National Migration Policy [NCFRMI].
In a keynote address to the maiden National migration dialogue, the Minister of Special Duties and Inter-governmental Affairs, Kabiru Tanimu Turaki, said, ‘’The justification for why we are gathered here today could be traced to an incident in April, 2014. We were perplexed by a report that some countries no longer recognize Nigeria as an English speaking country and that, this was based on a survey they had conducted. So by implication, a Nigerian Student would have to be subjected to an English test [TOFEL], to qualify for a student visa, while some non-commonwealth countries were not subjected to such discriminating conditions’’
He said this kind of dialogue has aroused the consciousness of many Nigerians who spoke against such a discriminatory policy and a counter- measure was taken to that effect.
The Minister stated further : ‘’ our gathering here to have a conversation on our peculiar migration experience is not in vain. We must all sit together from time to time to interrogate what our migration experiences are;, measures and strategies to harness the undeniable potentials of migration to our national development and advocacy for addressing the inequalities that exist in the global migration landscape’’.
In the Minister’s opinion, every country has the desire to better protect its citizens living abroad as well as securing the rights of guests living among its population. Each country is sensitized on the need to establish effective dialogue such as this on migration issues, preferably with the country of residence of its citizens, the countries of origin of the foreigners living within its territories with the migration communities in Nigeria and Nigerian migrants all over the world, as they are the real agents of change.
President Goodluck Jonathan, in a special address to the occasion, also said: ‘’This initiatives is significant in two ways,; First, Nigeria is joining the global community to mark the International day of migrations. Second, this is the maiden annual national migration dialogue aimed at providing a platform for debating the impact and linkages between migration and development and thereby shaping our national migration orientation’’,
The President stated that what this implies is that , in the end, ‘’We would have announced to the world about Nigeria’s readiness and commitment to take practical steps in mainstreaming migration in the post 2015 UN development agenda.
Represented at the occasion by Vice-President Namadi Sambo, Jonathan said: ‘’This is instructive to the extent that migration is a strategy for social reconfiguration, population dynamics and poverty reduction. Migration is increasingly coming into sharp focus on the global agenda and is recognized as a powerful vehicle for boosting development in both countries of origin and destination’’.
Jonathan explained that his government was concerned about ensuring that as a people, Nigeria should become more assertive in demanding that her brothers and sisters living outside the borders of the country are treated with dignity. ‘’As a nation, we must always look for ways to ensure that respect for every citizen of Nigeria outside our country forms part of our Foreign policy.
‘’Nigeria is the largest recipient of remittances in sub-Sahara Africa with receipt of approximately 65 percent of officially recorded remittances into the region and 2 percent of global flows. Statistics from the Central Bank of Nigeria indicates that remittances through the banking system stood at US$5.8 billion in 2005, US$10.7 billion in 2007, US$19.2 billion in 2008, US$20.6 billion in 2012 and US$20.76 billion in 2013. This clearly indicates a growing trend in the inflow of remittances from Nigerians in diaspora.” he noted.
According to him, while remittances are private funds used by migrants’ families to meet daily needs such as health, education and food, they are also invested in improvements to homes, the purchase of landed property and entrepreneurial activities.
He assured that government will continually deploy strategies to encourage the willingness of Nigerians in the diaspora to invest remittances in social infrastructure, human capital development and economic activities.
He called on participants at the dialogue to take the responsibility of sensitizing Nigerians and government at all levels to respect human rights, stressing, ‘’We must insist that in relating among ourselves as a nation, there are no Northern or Southern citizens, neither are there citizens of any particular state in the east or west, we are citizens of Nigeria, a people and a race bounded by the same history and constitution. We must continue to insist and uphold our constitution that guarantees the rights of all Nigerian to live anywhere in Nigeria without any fear of economic, political, religious or social exclusion’’.
He promised that the Federal Government was already taking measures to respond to the negative sides of migration. ‘’In relation to trafficking in persons, we have strengthened our anti-trafficking legislation. We are also reviewing our Immigration Act to tackle the menace of Migration Policy to provide a framework essentially for the protection of migrant workers
‘’The government is also aware that to ensure durable solution for the challenges of internal displacement. The root cause ab initio must be addressed. It is important to note that internal displacement is a dimension of internal migration. We are tackling the menace of insurgency and those that have been displaced by it must continually be protected’’.
He urged the participants to seize the opportunity to interrogate the nature of the country’s national migration orientation and proffer practical recommendations that would promote common national identity and integration.
In her opening remarks, the Federal Commissioner for Refugees, Migrants and internally displaced persons, Hadiza Kangiwa, said that the overall objective of the dialogue was to provide a platform for debating the impact and linkages between migration and development thereby shaping the nation’s national migratory orientation. ‘’it is also aimed at providing an opportunity for reviewing the various operational challenges at the institutional level of existing legal frameworks in addressing them’’
According to her, some of the expectations at the dialogues includes,; established platform for experience sharing, learning and networking on migration related issues and governance in Nigeria.
The Swiss Ambassador to Nigeria,-Dr.Has-Rudolf Hodel, promised that the dialogue will allow stakeholders from the 36 States of the federation and all key actors in the field of migration and development to meet, reflect upon, evaluate and monitor activities in the field of migration in the country adding that’’The main output of the dialogue will thus be the review of various operational challenges at the institutional level in implementing the national migration policy, this review will contribute, among others, to the evaluation of existing legal frameworks in addressing these challenges as well as the update of the National Migration Profile highlighting key areas of priorities for future government intervention’’.
One of the recommendations was the general agreement that beginning from 2015, the dialogue will now assume a yearly event in Nigeria.