EU tasks FG to generate database on Labour migration

·Says Nigerians abroad now remit $25 bn home annually

THE European Union (EU), on Thursday, tasked the Nigerian government to generate and provide reliable data on Labour migration, saying database on Labour migration in Nigeria was still scanty and could barely be used for any strategic planning.

Head of delegation, EU, Richard Young, who gave the position of the EU in Abuja, on Thursday, said Nigerians abroad were now remitting between $20 billion and $25 billion back home annually.

He gave this position, as the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, lamented the reported death of many Nigerians, who lost their lives while attempting to cross into Europe through Mediterranean Sea in boats and desert routes in the Sahara.

Ngige told the EU delegation that most migration from Nigeria in the past decade had taken place because of high unemployment rate and the inability of the economy to generate adequate number of decent work to absorb the rapid new entrants into the Labour force.

The EU head of delegation and the minister were speaking at the unveiling of national policy on labour migration and inauguration of the Labour Migration Technical Working Committee (TWC) and Social Partner Advisory Committee (SPAC) at the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Abuja, on Thursday.

The National Policy on Labour Migration, which has been approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), is produced with the joint technical support of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) with funding from the EU.

Mr Young said Nigeria was both an emigration and immigration country, as it attracted migrants from neigbouring countries and high volumes of remittances from nationals living abroad.

The EU head of delegation said: “In 2012, Nigeria and five other countries have been named by the World Bank as top recipients of global remittances. In  2012, Nigeria was estimated to have received about $21 billion in remittances compared to $3.3 billion in 2004, being by far the largest recipient of remittance in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

Mr Young pointed out that presently, Nigeria was receiving between $20 and $25 billion annually, adding that estimates also showed that in 2009, there were over five million Nigerians living abroad.

He stated that the National Policy on Labour Migration provided Nigeria a framework to regulate Labour migration and to ensure the dignity of people involved in Labour migration, adding that the document also clarified the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders dealing with the sector.

Senator Ngige, while unveiling the policy and also launching the two committees said the Federal Government had developed the policy to check the risk associated with irregular migration and its impact on the country’s human resources.

The minister disclosed that the policy was to ensure migrant workers were accorded regular immigrant status in their countries of destination.

Lamenting the loss of lives in a bid to cross to Europe, Ngige said: “Recently, several Nigerian and international news media published reports about citizens of this country who lost their lives while attempting to cross into Europe through the Mediterranean Sea in boats. Others have been reportedly lost on deasert routes in the Sahara.

“This is of utmost concern to the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, as no responsible government would sit back and watch the depletion of its country’s most critical factor of production and national development.”

He added: “As a country of origin and destination, Nigeria has derived significant benefits from migrant workers’ remittances and skills acquired during their migration experience and that is why the Nigerian government attaches much importance to the Labour Migration Policy.

“The risks associated with irregular migration and its impact on the country’s human resources and national development necessitated the development of this coherent policy on Labour migration, which aims at promoting decent work and respectability for migrant workers, as they would be accorded regular immigrants status in their countries of destination.”