Implementing #MMN In Southern Nigeria

Photo credit: Chimereogo Nwoke

With a population of approximately 200,000,000 people, which is expected to double within the next 30 years, Nigeria continues to assert its primacy within the sphere of international politics, demographics and sovereignty. The most populous nation and biggest economy in Africa, the West African nation is a major player in the wave of heightened transnational movements sweeping through the globe. A 2018 study by Pew Research Centre identifies Nigeria as being a major source of immigrants to the EU. With over 400,000 Nigerian born immigrants living in the EU, Norway, and Switzerland, the country easily tops the chart of sub-Saharan immigrants in that region. Indeed, a study by the Washington-based Think tank – Pew Research Center – shows that 74% of Nigerians are seeking to leave the country, either passively or actively. Knowing exactly how many Nigerians explore irregular migration routes is difficult, as many end up in Libya and other North African countries undocumented, while some lose their lives in the dangerous journey through the Sahara and across the Mediterranean. Moreover, a significant number do not correctly declare their origin. 

However, it is estimated that between 2014 and 2016, way over 50,000 Nigerians crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. Another source shows that over 80,000 Nigerians arrived by sea in Italy from 2013 to 2018. Little wonder the EU listed Nigeria among the five priority countries where efforts to regulate irregular migration must be intensified. Even as thousands continue to depart Nigeria and other sub-Saharan African countries in search for an often-elusive promised land – Europe, the spotlight is beginning to shine more and more on the complexities of the journey, as well as the vicissitudes of removal, return and repatriation. Since 2017, thousands of irregular and undocumented immigrants have been returned to Nigeria from North Africa and Europe. Many of these returnees carry with them a burden of physical and psychological injuries. In addition to their scars and trauma is the burden of stigma, disorientation and poverty. #MMN will take these intricacies into effect in the structuring of social, educational and economic programs and systems for a multi-faceted approach to migration in Nigeria. 

Interestingly, as Nigeria has been identified as a primary source of irregular migrants to Europe, it has been established that a huge percentage of these emigrants are from Edo State. Practically, there are already a number of NGOs working in the region, many of which are focused on providing support to returnees, while others mobilize returnees help sensitize communities on the realities of irregular migration. Many of these organizations and bodies are domiciled in Benin City, the capital of Edo state. Following a baseline study, #MMN Nigeria will potentially focus on peri-urban and rural communities close to Benin City. Targeting younger people in schools, churches, and networks, #MMN will use already produced and tested guides and kits, adapted to suit the local context to work with and alongside community members. We will equally identify partners and resource persons for collaboration and sharing of resources. 

Article by Chikezirim Nwoke

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