By James, Michael Igiri
A former Nigerian Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN), Martin Uhomoibhi yesterday revealed that a total of 602,000 Nigerians migrated to European countries in 2016 through the desert.
Uhomoibhi disclosed 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 the Governor of Kebbi State, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu at government house, Birnin-Kebbi.
The former diplomat said that among those who attempted the trip to Europe 27,000 died on their way trying to cross the desert or the Mediterranean. 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.
Uhomoibhi berated the act, and further revealed 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, thhe Governor of Kebbi State Abubakar 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 immigration to the EU adding, “If they are looking for greener pastures, it will be within their reach and they will stop taking unnecessary risks.”