Recently, the European Union (EU) raised alarm at the number of Nigerians illegally migrating to Europe. Available statistics show that Nigeria has the fifth highest number of citizens illegally migrating to Europe in the search for illusive greener pastures. It was revealed that 7,436 Nigerians crossed into Europe from Nigeria illegally in the second quarter of 2015.
More harrowing is the fact that many have lost their lives in the bid to cross the treacherous Mediterranean Sea in rickety and sea unworthy vessels to reach Europe. Usually, the route for this illegal migration is the Sahara Desert and Libya, the former, which is very inhospitable and wild, and the latter wracked by violent internecine civil war between Islamic fundamentalists. There have been many reports about how some have been forced to go hungry for days and weeks, and how they have managed to keep hydrated in the deserts by drinking the urine of themselves and of others. Over 10,000 Nigerian illegal migrants, in their bid to cross to Europe, had reportedly died on the high seas.
Not withstanding the tragedies, many Nigerians are still willing to risk lives and limbs in order to escape the crushing poverty in the country. The continuing mishaps encountered by these citizens in search of better opportunities in Europe, even through illegal routes, is a sad comment on the Nigerian situation. It is sadder still that reports of tragedies such as these do not discourage other would-be illegal immigrants. Definitely, not many would contest that the reason behind the illegal immigration is the ever-deteriorating economic condition at home.
The presumption is that the streets of Western countries are paved with gold and that life outside Nigeria would necessarily be better. However, who is to blame for such misconception when there is mass unemployment, decaying infrastructure and insecurity stalking the citizens at every turn?
The list of woes is unending and nothing could be more scary. Remarkably, the amount of determination and skill deployed by most of these illegal migrants shows them to be highly creative and would have been great assets to the socio-economic development of Nigeria, if their inherent talents were developed and tapped at home. Invariably, these would be illegal migrants are not oblivious of their talents and need to put them to creative use. However, in situations where federal government policies have progressively denied the youth segment of the population adequate opportunities in education, employment and other means of self-actualisation, tendency is for them to escape to those countries that offer brighter opportunities even at extremely high costs.
There is no doubt that Illegal migration has proven to be bad in every ramification. Nevertheless, stakeholders express concern as to why some Nigerian youths still take the risk of travelling through illegal channels despite the efforts of the government to stop this so far. We therefore call on the authorities fight against those ills that continue to encourage illegal migration to Europe. There is no gainsaying the fact that only the implementation of good policies would discourage more Nigerians from fleeing abroad as illegal immigrants. It is therefore imperative that governments across the federation improve conditions at home, and make the governance process more citizen-friendly.