President Muhammadu Buhari has disclosed that a national policy on internal displacement is in the process of adoption, adding that it will help regulate the internal displacement crisis and complement the fight against the Islamist insurgency in the north east.
This follows the president’s assurance that Nigeria will remain a migrant-friendly nation.
He made the disclosure at the 2018 National Migration Dialogue “Realizing the Sustainable Development Goals for all, including migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons,” held at the State House Conference Center, Abuja.
He reiterated that his administration is commitment to the realization of the SGDs with a focus on delivering hope for both citizens and migrants.
The 2018 dialogue is holding at a time the world is grappling with migration challenges and countries are exploring measures for enhancing the positive impact of migration on development within the context of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Buhari expressed his gratitude to international partners, especially the government of Switzerland through Swiss Development Cooperation, the European Union delegation among others for their support and cooperation.
He noted that December 18th has been set aside by the United Nations celebrate international migrants whose number have risen to 258 million and appreciate their innumerable contributions to national and human capital development.
“We celebrate their joys and happiness and more so recognize their sacrifices, pains and sorrows.”
Buhari said Nigeria, since the inaugural celebration in 2014, has continued with the national dialogue on migration. The event brings together all those working in migration-related areas, including government, international and local agencies and organizations, civil society, academia, private sector and unions, who gather to discuss how best to manage migration dynamics in the country.
He said his administration will continue to seek continuous improvement, adding that the National commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Person has the mandate to improve the coordination of migration-related matters in the country, as well as the resettlement of IDPs in the nation.
Buhari noted that various government interventions and Programmes are aimed at providing migrants, refugees and IDPs with the best tools to become self-reliant. He said the evacuation of hundreds of Nigerian migrants from Libya remains concrete evidence of his administration’s effort in addressing the issue which was overseen by a delegation of top government officials.
“The protection-based activities being offered to asylum seekers and refugees in Nigeria as well as the planned safe and voluntary return of Nigerians currently living as asylum seekers in Cameroon through a tripartite agreement between Nigeria, Cameroon and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. These are all well thought out activities that will ensure that Nigeria remains a migrant-friendly nation.”
He said the theme of this year’s Dialogue “Realizing the Sustainable Development Goals for all including migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons,” was apt.
The President said migration does not matter just because it adds to development but it also matters because migrants are first and foremost human beings and are, therefore, entitled to their fundamental human rights.
President Buhari urged that while exploring, strengthening and promoting migration and development issues, “let us not forget that the first responsibility we owe to common humanity – namely, working for the well-being of persons of concern, promoting and the protecting rights of each citizen.
“Our approach to migration must, therefore, be total as we follow our citizens living outside the country to ensure that they are respected and treated with dignity, we also have the same responsibility to the millions of non-citizens living and working within our own borders.”
He added, “I am encouraged to know that Nigeria has made efforts in the fight against irregular migration; apart from approving migration policy which is an overall framework for the governance of migration in the country.
“The federal government has fared well on the implementation of poverty alleviation Programme through empowerment such as N-power, federal government enterprise and tradamoni and market money schemes, improvement of infrastructure in other to provide an enabling environment for entrepreneurs.”
President Buhari said his administration has also embarked on enlightening citizens to the danger of irregular migration, which is complimentary to other institutional frameworks in place to combat irregular migration such as the Acts establishing National Agency for the Prohibition Trafficking in human beings and Nigeria Immigration service and sectoral policies like the National labour Immigration policy. “This is all part of efforts aimed eradicating the drivers of irregular migration such as poverty, unemployment, climate change, conflicts and social inequalities.”
The President said Nigeria is commitment to Agenda 2030 and ensuring Sustainable Development Goals are realized for all, leaving no one behind.
Buhari added that the outcome of the dialogue will ensure Nigeria’s effective participation in the voluntary national reviews designed by Sustainable Development Goals periodical review progress on SDGs target for the next 15 years.
He urged that actions must deliver hope to all migrants and citizens as well.
In her address, the Federal Commissioner for National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons, Sadiya Farouq, said the event was an indication of the strong commitment of the Nigerian government to the promotion of the plight of Nigerians on the move and those forcibly displaced within and outside the country.
She said it also demonstrates the responsiveness of the Buhari administration to emerging national and global issues and trends, adding that “It goes further to boost the image of Nigeria among the comity of nations.”
Farouq expressed confidence that with critical stakeholders in the migration and development spheres present, they will generate ideas for solving most of the challenges that international migration poses to nation and identify, steps to proactively take to realize full development potentials of migration.
Head of EU delegation to Nigeria, Ketil Karlsen, said the migration has the good, the bad and the ugly side. He encouraged government to minimize the bad and eliminate the ugly side of it which includes breaking up the gangs that traffic human beings.
He said Nigeria should encourage the good which is the remittances back home, develop those in the Diaspora and eliminate the effect of brain drain.
Karlsen assured, “We are ready to invest in Africa, we are ready to strengthen our cooperation to break criminal gangs, working with Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) on border strategies, work with students on easy way gain education, encourage European banks to inject the much needed funds into Africa’s s economy.”
Ambassador of Switzerland to Nigeria, Georg Steiner, pledged his country’s commitment to partner with Nigeria to develop a comprehensive strategy in migration management.