By Cecilia Ologunagba
New York, Sept. 19, 2023
UN Deputy Secretary General, Amina Mohammed, has proposed some actions to Nigeria Governors’ Wives Forum to help stem migration flows and ensure that Africa’s youths have right conditions to fulfil their dreams.
Mohammed made the call at the New York 2023 Nigeria Economic Growth and Trade Summit with the theme “Stemming Migration Flows by Providing Basic Needs’’ at Nigeria House in New York.
The UN correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports the summit was organised by the Nigeria governors’ wives forum on the sidelines of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly.
Mohammed, represented by Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), urged the forum to use its influential roles to change the trajectory and prospects for young people in Nigeria.
The deputy UN chief said the governors’ wives should initiate programmes to support education.
According to her, education is key – especially for girls and women, saying that this education should be one that had closer alignment between learning and earning.
“Women are the engine of trade and economic activity. Investing in their access to capital, property, and markets is critical. We all know of the legends of the women of Aba.
“How much further could they go, especially now in the dispensation of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
“Legal migration is an important part of every country’s development course.
” Take remittances. In 2022, they comprised of 4.2 per cent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“We must ensure that this critical investment source goes to more than consumption – and that the costs associated with remitting money meet the SDG target of no more than three per cent of the amount sent.’’
According to her, Nigeria has one of the strongest diaspora in terms of talents and skills, saying “these are our sons, daughters, nieces and nephews.
“They will be part of the drive for a futuresmart Nigeria.
“We need structured ways to incentivise them to return home – in circular flows of brain gain – and use their talents to take Nigeria to a high – speed road to attaining the SDGs.’’
She appreciated the efforts of the women, stressing that the UNDP was grateful for their leadership in bringing the power of women leaders to the service of ensuring that Nigerian women remained the engine powering the country’s resilience and growth.
At the core of stemming irregular migration, she said, was a call for all to work together in creating the conditions for self-actualisation at home in Africa.
“For context – in 2022, according to UNHCR, 26,400 Nigerian citizens requested asylum abroad.
“And yet that is not the problem – for migration – in and of itself, is a fixture of all of our collective human existence.
“But let us look at another statistic. In 2023, 3.6 million people were Internally displaced by conflict and violence in Northeast Nigeria – according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre.
“Now, there are multiple factors causing this. But what is clear – including from UNDP Research in a report we published in 2019 called Scaling Fences: Voices of Irregular African Migrants to Europe.
“It is that far too many of our young men and women have lost hope that their ability, skills, ingenuity, and creativity can make them able to serve their communities, economies, and their country,’’ she said.
According to her, they have dreams, hopes and ambitions that seem to have out paced what is available locally – at home.
“They pack these hopes in rack sacks and take on perilous journeys across national borders, where they often become victims of exploitation, abuse, and trafficking.
“They navigate harsh seas and we are all no strangers to the death that often accompanies these experiences.
“And so if we meet today – it is not by chance. It is our date with destiny – to take up action to ensure that Africa’s youths have the right conditions to self-actualize – in Nigeria, and in Africa.’’
She, however, pledged UNDP’s support to the forum, noting that the country office had been working closely with the governors of North East Nigeria.
“The organisation has been working with governors of north east– in Borno and Yobe States, supporting them in bringing back essential services, safety, livelihood opportunities and rebuilding the architecture of hope.
“UNDP has facilitated returns for over 27,000 internally displaced people in Borno Yobe and Adamawa.
“UNDP supports 20,000 young entrepreneurs to apply their education skills and talents into the work force across multiple industries,’’ the top UN official said.
Mohammed also reiterated the United Nation’s appreciation “for your leadership and our commitment to continuing to support Nigeria in its quest to attain the sustainable development goals.”
Also speaking, the Consul General of Nigeria in New York, Amb. Lot Egopija, listed what President Bola Tinubu’s administration was out to achieve with his “Renewed Hope Agenda”.
Egopija said the President had assured in unambiguous terms that his economic reforms which included diversification and charting a new economic path for the country, were intended to secure a better and great future for the country.
“To achieve the foregoing laudable goal, the Nigeria Consulate, amongst its other functions, is saddled with the responsibility of attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the Nigerian economy.
“In this connection, you are assured of the commitment of the Consulate to work with you as co-stakeholders in the Nigeria projects aimed at pulling FDI into the country.
“I have no scintilla of doubt that Nigeria remains the biggest market of choice for investors in Africa,’’ he said.
The Nigerian envoy, however, called for the establishment of a network platform amongst participants to enhance discussions beyond the event.