Youth Irregular Migration: Causes and Impact and My Advice to Nigeria Youths

illegal migration

 There has been a tragic mindset issue among many young men and women in Nigeria since around the late 80s. There is a widespread belief amongst young people that they can only make it abroad. This mindset has become a motivation for many of them to do just anything to travel outside the shores of this country without considering whatever harms may be on their way. Now we are in 2018 and the challenge has become menaces of very harmful proportions.

I have been following the issue of illegal migration especially from the Nigeria perspective over the recent years and the recent forced labor or slave trade in Libya has reinvigorated the discuss on the topic. I was compelled to write about the discuss when i had an opportunity to apply as an ambassador for the campaign against illegal migration at the Olusegun Obasanjo Library, Abeokuta.

The Nigeria Immigration service reports that no fewer than 10,000 Nigerians have died between January and May 2017 while trying to illegally migrate through the Mediterranean Sea and the deserts. In another report by International Organisation for Migration (IMO), over 1,500 migrants have ‘perished’ in the Mediterranean, and many more are believed to have died travelling across the Sahara desert or in the transit countries.

You wonder why these young men and women continually throng themselves in this journey of no return. It will seem that the tragedy of irregular migration is a reflection of the monumental ills in our economy. The Nigeria economy has not been able to substantially move away from the brink of its current recession and its effects are still very much evident in the lives of the people. On top of that, the unemployment issue among Nigeria youths remains at large. The promise of jobs and greener pastures has been the lure used by traffickers to entice unsuspecting young Nigerians to embrace illegal migration.

Many reports including IMO has revealed that many of these people travel on rickety boats across the Mediterranean during the perilous journeys. The experience of many Nigerians across the transit countries such as Niger and Libya has also been described as heart-wrenching.

In Libya, for example, there are up to 1 million migrants trapped in transit where they are exposed to hash living conditions and widespread human rights abuses. Some are traded as slaves for ransom, labour or sex by gangs of people-smugglers and many die in the appalling conditions of detention facilities run by both the Libyan authorities and militia forces.

During the last Christmas, I hosted a colleague of mine who during our conversation kept saying that “We should run away from this country joor, that we should go to somewhere like America or somewhere else where we can ‘enjoy’ life and never ‘even’ come back!”. He was really trying to sound very instructive about his view. I understood his motivations, because we have spoken about all the lacking opportunities to grow in our country at the moment. I didn’t really say anything in support of those views and this got him curious about my indifference. He asked ‘why I wasn’t really excited about any such opportunity?  So I told him frankly, that ‘I will like to see the world, learn about how other people do things, have a foreign education and all that but I don’t see those plans as a getaway or ‘Ja’ from Naija as he would call it.

The guy won’t let me rest. He kept asking me which places on earth can excite me right now. So I answered “I’d be excited to go to any place where they don’t do any work, they don’t pay any bills and where they have free foods”. That place would certainly be heaven.

There is no easy passage to Europe through irregular migration; illegal route to Europe is littered with hardship and death.

Illegal migration will continue to present many untold hardship and loss of lives to young people who could have contributed to the growth of our economy. The Nigerian authorities must overhaul our socio-economic structures, which is a very big issue at the moment, to yield results that can discourage young people from being desperate to seek illegal emigration. The task will be to provide opportunities at home for our teeming population of young people.

Don’t run away because you think your life cannot have any meaning in your own country. Travel because you want to learn and add value. Travel legal!

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