About 9,000 migrants from Nigeria arrived in Italy through the Mediterranean Sea in 2014, an official of the UN International Organisation for Migration, IOM, has said.
A research officer with the organisation, Tara Brian, said at a conference on National Migration Policy Thematic Areas organised by IOM that Nigeria was the fourth top country of origin for people arriving in Italy in 2014.
She said that of the number, 557 were minors while 78 per cent were male.
According to her Nigeria was also the fifth top country of origin of arrivals to Europe across the Mediterranean in 2014.
The IOM official also said there were no fewer than 3,000 Nigerian arrivals in Italy from January to end of April 2015.
In his presentation, a migration expert, Prof Adepoju Aderanti, said Nigerians abroad constituted the population of about seven African countries, adding that it is not surprising considering the country’s population.
Aderanti, however, said that Nigerians in Diaspora could be potential development tools for the country.
He said that the remittances of Nigerians abroad was about 25 billion dollars annually, saying it overtook direct foreign investment and was second to oil revenue.
“An average African who migrates ultimately wishes to return home but returning home depends on the situation at home. Some Africans in Diaspora want to come back home but the circumstances at home in many countries are not encouraging,” he said.
Aderanti called on the Federal Government to make migration a win-win-win situation for the migrants, the origin and destination countries through policies to attract remittance flows like tax holidays.
He also called for policies to woo Diaspora engagements like establishing a Diaspora commission and reviewing bilateral migration agreements with destination countries in favour of Nigeria.
Aderanti commended Nigeria for being the first country in Africa to adopt a National Policy on Migration.
A representative of the UN Resident Coordinator, Jean Gough, commended the Federal Government for adopting the National Policy on Migration.
Gough said Nigeria was a major country of origin, transit and destination within West African sub-region and globally.
She said having a legal framework for the governance of migration was an important step and a major achievement in managing the multi-faceted challenges of migration and taking hold of the opportunities.
“It is an established fact that Nigeria’s Diaspora contributes significantly to the Nigerian economy through remittances and the transfer of skills and knowledge.
“We are also confronted with the reality that many migrants travel irregularly for “better opportunities abroad”.
“This sometimes results in tragedies as recently shown in the deaths of thousands of migrants on the Mediterranean Sea,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Poultry Association of Nigeria, PAN has stated that Nigeria currently losses over $2 billion to smuggled poultry products, noting that the situation poses a serious threat to the nation’s poultry industry.
The National President of the association, Dr. Ayoola Oduntan, explained that over 1.2 million tonnes of smuggled poultry products, which are mainly frozen chicken and turkey, has continued to impact negatively on poultry farmers in the country.
Oduntan during the 2015 edition of the association’s annual national poultry summit, pointed out the country’s 300,000 tonnes of local production is a far cry from what is presently smuggled into the nation.
“Nigeria cannot continue to be a subtle dumping ground for all kinds of poultry and poultry products. Considering the high level of unemployment in the country, the government must do everything it can to reopen closed farm and develop the poultry industry, rather than wasting hard earned foreign exchange on products that gives nothing but financial losses to the economy,” he said.
He however noted that the outbreak of avian influenza, which affected 25 states in the country killing over 1.2 million birds, has increased to 1.4 million in 5 months.
“Financial support will be made by the World Bank to all farmers. Farmers must learn and also pay attention on the best and hygienic way to prevent these diseases,” he said.
Oduntan warned that the industry is also threatened by the negative impact of the Economic Partnership Agreement, EPA and the introduction of the Common External Tariff, CET, which is discouraging local production.
He called for focus on policy advocacy and institutional linkages that would put poultry business on the path of excellence.
“I want to assure that PAN shall continue to put poultry production at the forefront of agricultural production in Nigeria for the benefit of all poultry farmers,” Oduntan added.
Also speaking at the event, the Comptroller General of Customs, Dikko Abdullahi, expressed the readiness of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS to collaborate with PAN in enhancing the growth of the poultry industry.
This, he said, would be in the area of protecting local poultry business by intensifying seizures of smuggled poultry products through the nation’s border posts.
The comptroller general who was represented by an Assistant Controller of Customs, Musa Binga said the NCS was conscious of its role in protecting poultry products and those of other local industries by curtailing smuggling.
“We are very conscious of the crucial role of the Customs in protecting the poultry industry by curtailing the smuggling of poultry products into the country, especially through our border posts.
“As an evidence of the service’s commitment to the protection of the local poultry industry, we have improved on the seizures of smuggled poultry products through various border posts.
“There has been daily increase in the rate of seizures of poultry products, compared to seizures of other products.
“For instance in 2009, the rate was one per cent per count of total seizures by the service. But by 2013, the rate ran to eight per cent per count of total seizures made by the service,” he said.