Nigeria is facing an acute employment crisis that puts pressure on irregular migration for Nigerians who are seeking to leave the country for a better economic future abroad.
The World Bank in a report titled ‘Of Roads Less Travelled: Assessing the Potential for Migration to Provide Overseas Jobs for Nigeria’s Youth,’ posted on its website this week said about 50% of Nigerians are willing to leave Nigeria in hopes for a better life, making it an increase of nearly 20% since 2014.
The report revealed that between 2014 and 2020, Nigeria’s working-age population increased from 102 million to 122 million, growing at an average rate of approximately 3% per year.
According to the World Bank report, Nigeria ranked 3rd highest in West Africa behind Liberia (70%) and Sierra Leone (60%) of responders who would move permanently to another country. Also, Nigerians represented the largest group of migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa arriving in Europe in 2016 and 2017, it added.
“Unemployment is considered to be a key driver of migration. The number of first-time asylum seekers from Sub-Saharan Africa and Nigeria to Europe peaked in 2016, at the height of the European migration crisis before subsiding in late-2017 (Figure ES.3). Nigerians represented the largest group of migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa to arrive in Europe in 2016 and 2017. Nearly 40,000 Nigerians arrived in Italy in 2016 with over 90 percent arriving via sea routes,” it said.
The Washington-based bank revealed that the decline in the number of asylum seekers from Nigeria in recent years is a result of tighter border control policies supported by the EU in transit countries such as Libya and Niger.
The report urged that by expanding legal pathways for migration and implementing supporting measures to reap dividends from current migrants in the diaspora, Nigeria can further benefit from international migration.
“Nigeria’s institutions are well-placed to promote managed migration approaches that help create opportunities for prospective Nigerian jobseekers to find employment internationally and can be supported to help design schemes that increase the returns to human capital investments for Nigerian youth,” it said.
“One consequence of inaction to the rising migratory pressure has been the increase in irregular migration to Europe which has resulted in Nigerian migrants facing not only higher economic costs but also physical and psychological abuse along the transit corridors in Niger and Libya,” it warned.
It also suggested that “Reducing the cost of sending remittances to Nigeria directly benefits Nigerian households as it provides more resources for them to invest in their households and in the economy.”