602,000 Nigerians migrated to Europe in 2016, says UN ex-envoy

Former Nigerian Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN), Martin Uhomoibhi yesterday disclosed that 602,000 Nigerians migrated to European countries in 2016 through the desert of which 27,000 died on their way.

Uhomoibhi stated this during a courtesy visit of the European Union (EU) Ambassador to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Michael Arrion to Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu at government house, Birnin-Kebbi. He pointed out that 68 per cent of the dead immigrants were graduates of higher institutions in the country. “You can imagine that trend! We are not at war like Syria or Iraq. Why are we migrating as if there is war?” he queried.

The former envoy lamented that some surviving immigrants that escaped through the desert became slaves in Libya while others engaged in illegal businesses. “No one says we should not migrate abroad, especially for studies. But our destiny is here. Nobody will help Nigeria except we help ourselves,” he added.  Speaking, Arrion told Governor Bagudu that European countries would always welcome legitimate immigrants from Africa because the EU was interested in Africa’s growth and development. He noted that the EU would sustain its partnership with Africa, especially on investments, education, industrialisation and workforce. “About seven million children are born yearly in Nigeria alone while five million children are born in European countries. We would continue to partner with Africa, especially Nigeria on our common historical relationship,” he added.

In his response, Bagudu said most Nigerians love their country and it was always a hard decision for majority to leave Nigeria to an unknown destination usually in search of greener pastures. He urged the EU to establish universities and industries in Nigeria to stem the high rate of immigrants to the EU adding, “If they are looking for greener pastures, it will be within their reach and they will stop taking unnecessary risks.”