Push factors for Nigerian migration

Nigerians count for one of the larger migrant groups arriving in Europe today. What do they migrate from? And what do they return to? A seminar on Nigeria, arranged by MIGMA, set out to find answer to these questions.

Picture of panelists discussing push factors for migration.

What are the most important push factors for Nigerian migration? One of the topics discussed by Victor Adetula, Sine Plambech, David Pratten and Morten Bøås.  Erlend Paasche moderated the debate. Photo: Villman/UiO.

The background for the seminar Nigeria Today: Perils and potential was to shed light on the domestic situation in Nigeria, and get a better understanding of why so many Nigerians leave their country.

Pregnant migrants

According to MIGMA researcher Sine Plambech, the gendered experience of migration is seldom accounted for in the public debate. Pregnancy being one such major experience. Many NGOs in Italy are today dealing with an increasing number of pregnant women arriving. The situation for both newborn babies and their mothers can be challenging, as the mothers want to continue their journey northwards in Europe in search for a job.

At the seminar these were some of the early findings Plambech shared from her recent fieldwork in Sicily. Sicily is an important point of arrival to Europe, with Nigerians as the largest migrant group arriving. There has been a continuous increase in Nigerian migrants arriving to Europe the last decade, and this increase still seems to continue. Approximately one third of the Nigerian migrants arriving in Italy are female, which is a much higher share than in other migrant groups.

Problems with insecurity

The other presentations at the seminar dealt with the current societal problems and lack of interpersonal trust in the Nigerian society. Boko Haram has in last years received worldwide attention for their brutal attacks. Morten Bøås explained how the uprising of Boko Haram has been a trigger for large-scale internal displacement and migration. Most of the internally displaced will never be able to migrate to Europe because of their extremely marginalized position. And since their situation does not count as newsworthy from a European perspective, we do not hear about their migration. For this reason, the connection between migration and the conflicts in Africa often remains unseen to Europeans, according to Bøås.

The problem of insecurity in Nigeria is however not limited to Boko Haram alone. David Pratten exemplified this by telling about how policing of youth has implications for safety at both regional and national level. Victor Adetula presented the political situation, and how dealing with insecurity is a great challenge for the current presidential administration.

To what degree insecurity is a decisive push factor for migration, was one of the questions discussed at the seminar. According to all panelists, the problems of insecurity must be seen in combination with the enormous social inequality in Nigeria. Many Nigerians simply do not see any future for themselves in their home country when all aspirations for social mobility are gone.

By Emma Villman
Published Sep. 11, 2017 8:34 AM - Last modified Sep. 12, 2017 2:54 PM