Migration is an age-long human venture. However, its prevalence in recent years has skyrocketed. Both internal and external movement in Nigeria is significantly fueled by insecurity, consequences of climate change, shrinking resources and economic challenges. According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), Nigerian has about 1.3 million international migrant stock in 2019.
Over the years, hundreds of Nigerians have returned from Libya. Some of the returnees were captured and detained while attempting to enter Europe through the Mediterranean sea; others have been trafficked for human labour and prostitution. Despite the increasing risks and failure of migrants in journeying to Europe through the sea and the desert, the number of new voyagers keeps increasing. In 2018, at least 4000 Nigerians voluntarily returned from Libya. In April 2019, the National Emergency Management Agency received a fresh batch of over 180 Nigerians stranded in Libya. Periodically, scores of Nigerians are returned from Libya after facing inhuman conditions in a fervent quest to enter Europe.
In the face of insecurity, crisis and economic challenges, many Nigerian migrants in Europe will risk it again. A recent report by the United Nations reveals that 90 percent of migrants in Europe would still make the perilous journey despite the risks; signalling inherent conditions in their home countries as push factors for such voyages. The surge in security challenges has had significant impact on the economic fortunes of the country. Migration to Europe has become a perceived solution to rewrite one’s financial history and that of one’s family regardless of the risks involved.
Despite having economic value, migration trends could pose disastrous consequences. According to the Worldbank, in 2017 Nigerians in diaspora remitted $22 billion to Nigeria, which is equivalent to the nation’s total crude oil earnings. The Worldbank also estimates that global remittance grew by 10 per cent to $689 billion in 2018 with developing countries receiving $528 billion of it. With Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) getting less than $60 billion of the entire sum, Nigeria accounts for over a third of all SSA remittance. With an estimated population of 200 million, migration of middle-income earners means a corresponding increase in the flow of remittance. While applauding the surge in remittance, it could also mean that economically, things are getting worse; hence, people are fleeing the country. In 2018, Nigeria received $25 billion in remittance.
According to the African Development Bank, about 70,000 skilled workers leave Africa annually. The brain drain is untold as Nigerians are continuously seeking for better opportunities, usually outside the continent. A report reveals that of about 72, 000 doctors registered with the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) more than half practice outside the country. Compared to the World Health Organisation recommendation for one doctor per 600 persons, Nigeria has one per 5000 people. For development to occur, humans need to develop themselves before they can develop their physical environment. If skilled Nigerians are migrating to advanced nations for greener pastures, who will develop the country?
Government’s reaction to migration has majorly been reactionary. Other efforts have been about creating awareness on the dangers of irregular migration. Adequate resources have not been channelled at mitigating the factors that drive its prevalence. Government need to show commitment towards tackling the rise of insecurity and volatility in most parts of the country. In addition, government’s policies and programmes should be geared towards economic growth and development. A secure Nigeria where there is economic prosperity will significantly drop the propensity for migration.