Frantz Celestin, Chief of Mission, International Organisation for Migration (IOM), Nigeria has said that poverty was not the leading cause of irregular migration but rather the aspiration and mindset of irregular migrants.
Celestin made this known on Saturday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
According to him, irregular migrants pay between 5,000 dollars and 10,000 dollars (N1.8 to N3million) to traffickers and smugglers, the sum which was enough to develop themselves in the country.
He said that poverty and underdevelopment could not be completely ruled out as a reason for seeking a better life in developed countries but a change of mindset and aspiration could reduce irregular migration.
“Migration is a multi-dimensional and complex issue, depending on the country you see a different version of it.
“It is not necessarily that poverty is the driver, it is one of the drivers but it is not necessarily the case.
“ It is not even the fact that there are conflicts, look at the North East, very few people in those states that are affected by what is going on are moving.
“When they move, they move across the borders and they come back, they don’t go to Europe.
“Is it the culture, is it aspiration? And I think that is the key because if somebody spends 5,000 – 10,000 dollars to be smuggled, he or she has enough to actually start something at home.
“If you were to ask yourself the question, do I see myself here? If that answer is no, you are going to do whatever it takes to get out. So, aspiration is one of the keys to migration.
“If the answer is yes, you will do whatever is necessary, you will hustle, you will sell bread on the streets, you will sell water, you will build your business step by step.
“You will find a way if you see yourself in the space that you are if not, there is no wall, there is no space, no water that will hold you
“We would like these people to use this level of determination back home, in businesses, in school, working for the government.
“This can-do attitude, I would like for that to be used back home where we can put it to the economic development of the country,’’ Celestin said.
Celestin explained that aspiration could, however, be linked to poverty, access to lack of justice, social services and a host of it.
He said that economic development also spurred migration because it improved people’s aspirations and what they expected of their governments and their societies.
The IOM Chief, however, advised irregular migrants to put the same level of desperation and zeal of making it overseas into developing themselves back home.
Celestin called on national governments to put structures in place and ensure that the system worked effectively for small businesses to thrive which would encourage people to develop themselves in their home countries.
He said that changing the mindset of people required an enabling environment for people to realise that there was career development, professional development and once you got out of school there was something for you.
He also lauded the Nigerian government for putting several migration policies in place and efforts made to curb irregular migration to its barest minimum.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that most irregular migrants have blamed their desperate and suicidal journeys through the Mediterranean and dessert on poverty and underdevelopment in home countries.