The Initiative for Youth Awareness on Migration, Immigration, Development and Reintegration (IYAMIDR), said the current situation in the country would likely drive many more Nigerians into irregular emigration.
Mr Solomon Okoduwa, Executive Director of IYAMIDR, who is a former aide to Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State on Illegal Migration, made this known in an interview with NAN in Benin on Tuesday.
He noted that apart of the post COVID-19 challenges, the current economic situation would also form part of the reason why many Nigerians will be seeking greener pastures outside.
Okoduwa said the activities of some syndicates who lure young people abroad was also driving irregular emigration, adding that no fewer than 55 persons leave Benin-City weekly by road to Europe through Libya.
While regretting that most of these people die before they get to their destination, he said a genuine approach must be developed by government at all levels to stem the tide.
According to him, “These migrants narrow their grievances to unemployment while some others see the exchange rate between the Naira and Euro as a compelling force.
“The current hardship in the country occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic has also, in no small means, contributed to this.
“As I speak with you, between 55 to 60 persons leave Benin on a weekly basis by road to Libya through Niger Republic to take the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.
“If we must address this menace, there must be a competitive advantage for school leavers. Skills should also be developed. Government at all levels must pay intention to issues of illegal migration.”
He said genuine initiatives must be taken to stem the tide of irregular migration among youths in the country, adding that the Edo Okomu Oil was a good example.
“Okomu Oil engaged about three thousand returnees from Libya and truly, this is the way to go. These people who are now productively engaged will not think of embarking on the risky journey again.
“Government and other individuals or organisations can also use the Okomu example to engage these people who are mostly youths.
“The European countries should also not dole out money to secure the Mediterranean, instead, such funds should be channelled towards helping the endemic countries and communities in Sub-Saharan Africa.”
Okoduwa, however, stressed that the activities of irregular migrants were not only restricted to roads.
“There are many more who leave by air transport than by road and you will never know this. They leave through visas procured through other countries,” he stated.