By Prosper Okoye
Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have said that the campaign to discourage irregular migration to European Union (EU) countries would achieve significant success, as the strategy of educating prospective Nigerian migrants on the EU seven legal migration directives has been
The Executive Director of the Patriotic Citizen Initiatives, Osita Osemene said in an interview during a two-day workshop designed to teach CSOs about these directives that the conventional
method, which solely focused on raising awareness about the dangers of irregular migration, has proven to be less effective.
He said, “Despite the campaigns over the years, people still embark on
dangerous journeys, acquire fake visas, and get deceived by travel agents. Instead of obtaining a visa to stay in the EU, they unknowingly secure tourist visas, leading them to become stranded and
fall into irregular status.
” We have found that a significant driver of this occurrence is the lack of information about how and what the owners of the country require for entry,” he said.
A recent international migration survey shows that 86% of potential Nigerian migrants are unaware of the EU migration options.
Mr. Osemene, who is the Nigerian Technical Assistant to the International and Ibero-American Foundation for Administration and Public Policies (FIIAPP) project said that the workshop idea was initiated by EU countries.
“They have assembled CSOs from various parts of Nigeria to train them on the legal pathway to migration, providing the general framework and directives needed.
“Those trained will conduct step-down training in their local communities, in addition to offering pre-travel counseling.You can’t ask people not to migrate; it is their right,” he maintained.
“The narrative is changing. Instead of merely advising against following an irregular pathway or trusting fraudulent travel agents,we will now provide knowledge about the directives. By educating individuals on these directives, they can discern fake opportunities that deviate from the established guidelines.
“When you understand that the EU directives offer opportunities for travel through contractual agreements, research, academic endeavors, volunteering programs, or family reunification, and you are aware of the necessary documents required for visa applications, you won’t be swayed by promises like ‘I will handle it for you.’
“Knowing the terms outlined in the directives is crucial because failure to adhere to them can result in serious consequences for which you alone will bear the responsibility,” he explained, while calling for the establishment and localization of migration centers in all parts of the country to implement the new strategy”.
Mr. Osemene debunked the notion that traveling through the irregular route is cheaper.“It is more expensive, and it is not only about the funds; it also involves your health and many other factors. You will pay dearly for it as an irregular migrant,” he said.He added that the seminar would open up more channels to deliberate with EU authorities to include Nigeria, like other third-world countries, in the opportunities outlined in the directive.
DISPARITIES IN TREATMENT FOR NIGERIANS:
In an interactive session, CSOs highlighted that Nigerians are not afforded the same privileges as individuals in other third-world countries concerning migration, work opportunities, and asylum.
“There are many restrictions that are placed on us as a country. If you read through most work opportunity adverts, you see that Nigerians are barred from applying,” Executive Director of Smiles Africa International Youth Development, Purpose Osamwonyi, said
Similarly, Bose Aggrey, the Executive Director of Web of Heart Foundation, shared a story about someone deported from the UK after 33 years. She also recalled a time when 55,000 job openings for third-world countries coincided with the deportation of about 14,000 Nigerians from Germany.
“This made me question why there was encouragement for an additional 55,000 people to move to Germany when there were already deportations happening. I argued that those who had already gone through processing and training could benefit from leniency, skill improvement, and legitimization of their status. However, it was explained that while this idea has humanitarian merit, putting it into practice might continue an undesirable pattern.”
ANTICIPATED OUTCOMES OF THE SEMINAR:
Emmanuel Sule, the Executive Director of the Center for Development and Cultural Interchange, said that the recommendations formulated would foster safe and regular migration in Nigeria. Some of theseBrecommendations include:
FIIAPP should ensure support in creating a migrant information center among the participating CSOs; FIIAPP should provide support for the translation of the seven legal directives into local languages for easy understanding; The EU should ensure that the regular migration pathway is easily accessible to prospective migrants; Inclusion of Nigerians in all socio-economic opportunities open to third-world countries;
The EU should provide support to returnees by offering skills and training for their reintegration, while also assisting those who wish to return to the EU through the regular pathway.
Sule emphasized the significance of the gathering, noting that it served as an eye-opener to previously unknown European Union policies.
He also highlighted the impact of this newfound awareness, stating that it would enhance their efforts to educate Nigerians on legal migration pathways. He believes this could deter individuals from
embarking on perilous journeys through the desert and the Mediterranean Sea, where many have tragically lost their lives in their pursuit of reaching Europe.
“The seminar, organized by the International and Ibero-American Foundation for Administration and Public Policies (FIIAPP) with the support of the European Union, has played a crucial role in shedding light on these policies and facilitating discussions to address migration challenges in Nigeria, Cape Verde, Ethiopia, Morocco,BSenegal, Egypt, Ghana, Tunisia, where the program is implemented.”