By Tunde Johnson, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has assured that the Federal Government is working tirelessly to improve the living standard of Nigerians to make migration a choice.
Speaking during the 2017 annual national migration dialogue and colloquium entitled: “Comprehensive Approach to Combating Irregular Migration: From Rhetoric’s to Action” President Buhari urged the colloquium to come up with actionable proposals that will improve responses in being proactive that will ensure that migration is a choice not necessity.
He said Nigerians will soon have no need to migrate and when they do so, it should be save and in an orderly manner.
The President noted that the government is doing everything possible to halt irregular migration, and anyone found guilty of abetting human trafficking, smuggling or modern slavery will be treated in accordance with law.
‘’As you know, we have the agency that tackle the issues of human trafficking in the country, and we also doing everything to reinforce our borders, to ensure that people are not taken advantage of unduly,’’ he said.
Represented by Abdulrahman Dambazau Minister of Interior, Buhari averred that irregular migration has become a worrisome global challenge to global migration dynamics as the rate of its occurrence raises a cause of concern due to the risk it presents across borders.
‘’Irregular migration routes have become more perilous than ever. Today, tthrough the Mediterranean Sea, the vulnerability of these prospective migrants is increased by the grief and heartlessness of smugglers, traffickers and corrupt border security officer, the worst of this ordeal is in Libya as captured.
‘’Nigeria has been considered as a country with the highest rate of irregular migration, it is assume to have the fifth largest number of citizens crossing Europe and the highest number of irregular migrants through Agadez routes.
‘’Hundreds die each year in attempt to reach Europe; the news of the 26 dead bodies discovered at the bank of the Mediterranean Sea in Italy is still fresh in our minds.
‘’We are aware that international communities are playing their part both in policies and actions in reducing or ending irregular migration.
‘’We seek a comprehensive outlook to curb irregular migration, while migrants keep moving in spite of the known dangers and effort to discourage it, what are we doing or not doing well as government, we are waiting for actionable proposals that will include response, in being proactive not reactive,’’ he said.
In his welcome remarks, Frantz Celestin, Representative of the Chief of Mission, International Migration for Migration (IOM), noted that Nigeria has also witnessed unprecedented increase in the number of migrants returning to Nigeria from Libya and Niger.
Between January to November 2017, IOM, with funding from the European Union has facilitated the return and reintegration of about 6,000 Nigerian migrants.
‘’Many of these migrants are still stuck in terrible detention facilities and desiring opportunities to return home and reunite with their family.” He said