By Angela Atabo
The Global Migration Research Institute (GMRI), U.S. on Tuesday called for collective efforts among stakeholders to tackle irregular migration in Nigeria.
Dr Williams Azuma-Ijoma, President, GMRI, U.S., made the call in Abuja at a National Workshop on Migration Issues it organised in partnership with the Universal Migration Enlightenment Centre (UMEC), Nigeria.
The workshop has the theme: “Tackling Migration as a Diverse Problem for Sustainable Growth and Social Progress.”
According to Azuma-Ijoma, the aim of the workshop is to address one of the most pressing issues in the country, which is migration, and explore how to work together towards a better future.
“Migration in all its dimensions has emerged as a complex challenge affecting nations worldwide.
“Today, we are here to delve into the core of this problem and to chart a course towards sustainable growth and social progress,” he said.
Azuma-Ijoma said that though the Nigerian government had made commendable efforts in implementing policies and initiatives aimed at combating migration-related challenges, there are still rooms for improvement.
He said that migration remained a pressing concern in Nigeria and it was incumbent upon all to ensure a sustained and intensified effort.
The GMRI president said that there are specific areas that the Nigerian government and concerned agencies should focus on to address migration more effectively.
“Firstly, accurate and up-to-date data is essential to understand the patterns, causes and consequences of migration.
“It will enable us to develop evidence-based policies and programmes that can effectively manage migration flows, protect vulnerable individuals and allocate resources appropriately.
“Therefore, the Nigerian government should invest in strengthening data collection mechanisms and encourage research institutions to contribute towards a robust knowledge base on migration,’’ he said.
Azuma-Ijoma added that there was a need to prioritise the implementation and enforcement of existing policies and laws.
He said that concrete steps needed to be taken to ensure that policies are effectively enforced at all levels, leaving no room for gaps or weaknesses.
Azuma-Ijoma said that this included collaborating with relevant agencies to combat human trafficking and irregular migration while providing support and protection to victims.
He said that it was vital to establish partnerships and strengthen cooperation with other nations and international organisations.
The GMRI president noted further that there was also the need to focus on addressing the root causes of migration.
These root causes of migration, he said, included economic disparities, political conflicts, environmental degradation and lack of opportunities, and drove people to migrate in search of a better life.
“To tackle these underlying factors, the Nigerian government should prioritise sustainable development and inclusive growth.
“This is by creating an environment that fosters economic opportunities, social equity and environmental sustainability that can reduce the desire or need for individuals to migrate,’’ he said.
Azuma-Ijoma also stressed the need to equip youths by investing in education, skills development and ensuring they get gainfully employed or empowered.
The Acting Comptroller General, Nigeria Immigration Service, Wuraola Adepoju, in her paper presentation titled, “Issues and Dangers Of Irregular Migration”, said migration could be profitable, however irregular migration was dangerous.
Represented by an Assistant Comptroller General (ACG), Ngozi Odikpo, Adepoju said that at least 1.3 million Nigerians are facing irregular migration challenges across the world.
“Just on Sept. 25, 160 stranded Nigerians were returned from Libya. This is coming just less than weeks when 155 irregular migrants were voluntary returned.
“The evacuees were trapped in Libya as irregular migrants on the verge of a perilous journey to Europe and other parts of the world.
“More than 6,500 stranded Nigerians have been returned from Libya under the IOM Voluntary Humanitarian Repatriation (VHR) in 2023,” she said.
Adepoju urged Nigerians to desist from irregular migration, as the nation made concerted efforts towards enhancing migration governance to harness the benefits of migration. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Dorcas Jonah/Christiana Fadare