President Buhari Celebrates International Migrants’ Day
Realizing the sustainable development goals (SDGs) for all including migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs)
It is my pleasure to be with you today to celebrate International Migrants’ Day. I thank and congratulate the organizers of this event, the Technical Working Group of the Nigerian Migration Management Mechanism under the coordination of the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons and their collaborating agency, the Office of Special Assistant to the President on the Sustainable Development Goals.
I am as well grateful to our partners especially the Government of Switzerland (through Swiss Development Cooperation), European Union Delegation and the International Organization for Migration for their great support and cooperation.
December 18 has been set aside by the United Nations for the celebration of international migrants whose number today has risen to the staggering number of 258 million. On this day, we recognize and appreciate their immeasurable contributions to national and human development. We celebrate their joys and happiness and more so recognize their sacrifices, pains and sorrows.
Since the inaugural celebration in 2014, Nigeria has marked this day with a National Dialogue on Migration. This event brings together all those who are working in different migration-related areas including government, international and local agencies and organizations, civil society, academia, private sector and unions.
These people drawn from the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory gather to discuss how best to manage migration dynamics in the country. We commend the leadership of NCFRMI in this regard.
Migration governance in Nigeria has seen continuous improvement since the expansion of NCFRMI mandate to include the coordination of all migration-related matters in the country as well as the resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons in the Nation. This is evidenced by various Government interventions and programs aiming to provide IDPs, Refugees and Migrants with the best tools to become self-reliant.
Concrete examples of our efforts include, the evacuation of hundreds of Nigerian Migrants from Libya which was overseen by a delegation of top Government officials, the protection-based activities being offered to asylum seekers and refugees in Nigeria, as well as the planned safe and voluntary return of the thousands of Nigerians currently living as asylum seekers in Cameroun through a tripartite agreement between Nigeria, Cameroun and UNHCR. These are all well thought out activities that will ensure Nigeria remains a migrant-friendly Nation.
The theme of this year’s dialogue is “Realizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for all including migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs).” Migration does not matter just because migrants add to development. Migration also matters because migrants are first and foremost human beings, and are therefore entitled to their fundamental human rights.
While we explore, strengthen and promote the migration and development issues, let us not forget the first responsibility we owe to our common humanity, namely, working for the wellbeing of persons of concern, promoting and protecting the rights of each citizen.
Our approach to migration must, therefore, be total. As we follow our citizens living outside the country to ensure that they are respected and treated with dignity, we also have the same responsibility to the millions of non-citizens living and working within our own borders.
I am encouraged to know that Nigeria has made efforts in the fight against irregular migration. Apart from approving a National Migration Policy which is an overall framework for the governance of migration in the country, The Federal Government has fared well on the implementation of poverty alleviation programs through empowerment, such as N-Power; The Federal Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programs (GEEP) such as; the Trader Moni and Market Moni Schemes, Improvement of Infrastructure in order to provide an enabling environment for entrepreneurs.
Several million Nigerians have benefited from the N-Power Scheme among other national social investment programs of this administration.
The Federal Government through its relevant institutions has also embarked on sensitization of citizens to the dangers of irregular migration. This is complementary to other institutional frameworks put in place to combat irregular migration, such as the Acts establishing NAPTIP and NIS and sectoral policies like the National Labour Migration Policy.
This is all part of efforts aimed at eradicating the drivers of irregular migration such as poverty, unemployment, climate change, conflicts and social inequalities. I am also pleased to say that a National Policy on Internal Displacement is in the process of adoption, which will help regulate the internal displacement crisis and complement the fight against insurgency on which the Federal Government is fully committed.
It is also worthy to mention the Global Compact on Migration (GCM) which was adopted by 164 Countries of the UN on the 10th to 11th of December 2018, which Nigeria participated in and chaired one of the sessions in plenary.
Nigeria’s commitment to Agenda 2030 and ensuring that the SDGs are realized for all, leaving no one behind is unwavering. As contained in the concept note of this event, ‘the outcome of this dialogue and its subsequent implementation will ensure Nigeria’s effective participation in the voluntary national reviews designed by the SDGs process to periodically review progress on the SDGs targets over the next fifteen years”.
As we generate indicators for measuring the migration-related targets of the SDGs, let us look at action-rooted initiatives that will deliver hope to all migrants and citizens as well.
Let me once again thank the organizers and their coordinating agencies. I truly appreciate your contributions towards this event and your usual cooperation and commitment to our mutual responsibilities. You are indeed invaluable partners.
Finally, I wish to implore our citizens, especially the youth who constitute the larger population of those who decide to take these perilous journeys through deserts and sea crossings and end up losing their lives to desist. I advise them to tap into various Government programmes in order to change their lives and improve their standards of living.
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