Experts and international organisations generally summarise migration from Nigeria in three main waves. The first wave being the period 1914–1960s, capturing the era when the country was under colonial rule, followed by the second wave, 1960s – 1980s, encapsulating the first two decades after independence. Then, the third wave, 1980s until today.
A new project, by the Society of Young Nigerians in Diaspora for International Collaboration and Transnational Engagement led by Adeniyi Sanusi, seeks to tell the story of the third wave of Nigerian migration, covering a period of 40 years.
The political instability and the economic downturn of the 1980s and 1990s forced many young people to flee Nigeria to seek a better life elsewhere. Despite the restoration of electoral democracy in 1999, the country is still battling with the very same issues that sparked the wave of emigration in the early 1980s.
Therefore, the inability of the country to offer its youth confidence in the future has led to a sustained, unbroken tempo of emigration from the country, four decades on.
The project, “Nigeria Diaspora Project 40/40”, seeks to highlight the emigration history of the Nigerian diaspora since 1981.
“The goals of this project are to enable Nigerians in diaspora tell their stories; celebrate their good side manifesting in remittances, investments, brain regain and sharing best practices learnt abroad,” Ajibola Abayomi, the president of the Journalists International Forum for Migration who doubles as the media adviser to the project, said in a statement.
The Project 40/40 aims at leveraging on the symbolism of the number 40 to inspire a new narrative for Nigerians, Sanusi, who is based in Romania, explained. He hopes that by highlighting lessons learned and sharing best practices, the project would convey a realistic picture of migration to young Nigerians.
The project also seeks to renew the call on the diaspora to take up greater responsibility for the development of their home country, Abayomi said in his statement.
A book, containing 40 stories of Diaspora Nigerians, will be published as part of Project 40/40 and this will be launched at a conference that will take place in Lagos on 2 October.
The conference, at which the project will be presented to the public, will, among others, dwell on migration and development and how diaspora engagement can be driven to support national developmental efforts.
Confirmed speakers for the event include Dr Andrew S. Nevin, Partner & Chief Economist, PwC Nigeria; Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, CEO, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission; Mr Kingsley Aikins, CEO of The Networking Institute, Ireland; Mr Kabir Mohammed, Director, Learning & Development at the Centre for Management Development, Lagos; and Mr Abiodun Odunuga, the Vice President of Friends of Nigeria, France.
The conference will be attended by a live audience as well as remotely by Nigerians and other interested people across the globe as it will be broadcast online.
The discourse on migration and development has received increased attention in recent years. Hopefully, Nigeria Diaspora Project 40/40 will make an important contribution to the body of literature of this study.
For more information about the Nigeria Diaspora Project 40/40, visit: https://ngadiasporaproject4040.com/