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Alternative Narratives to Illegal Migration Among Young People in Nigeria.

Victor is a registered member of Data Science Nigeria and an electrical and electronic student of Obafemi Awolowo University. A mastermind.

Nigeria is often called the “Giant of Africa” with a clear understanding that the young people in Nigeria are the giants and the force that fuels the nation itself, yet it remains a ground truth that more than 75 percent of the young people in Nigeria would migrate to another continent entirely, without looking back if they were offered the opportunity for free.

The greatest interest in the mind of every Nigerian youth is financial stability and to have the best form of livelihood. These things are the basic and most common motivations for illegal migration among young Nigerians. Neglecting social issues, challenges, racial discrimination, and natural disasters these countries still face, the Nigerian youths only open their ears to success stories of Nigerian folks who have migrated illegally in the past. These success stories are often true, and these folks turn out to be financially successful in the long run. This unknowingly drives desperation for migration.

The dangers of illegal migration are well known by those who engage in it, although, it may be far worse than anticipated, these dangers do not significantly reduce the number of people that still engage in it, with a larger percentage among the Nigerian youths. Most times, illegal migration is resulted to when the individual lacks the funds but is desperate to migrate. This strong desire is fueled by the belief that a better future awaits them abroad. With the exchange rate saga too, which is now overkill, they strongly believe that working a few months abroad is equivalent to working many years here in Nigeria.

It is impossible to deny that most of these beliefs are often true, Nevertheless, African stories like The Black Panther and the city of Wakanda keep my head in line. I strongly believe in Nigeria and in building the future of this nation. The Nigerian youths have to understand the power they possess here in their nation, as well as acknowledge the fact that they have a responsibility to build this Nation.

Just like the city of Wakanda, blessed with vibranium, Nigeria is blessed with several natural resources, innovative, and hardworking youths, however, they must open their eyes to maximize the potentials in the nation, and strive to grow their ideas here, in turn, this will contribute greatly to the development of the nation.

There are several opportunities in Nigeria to which many youths are yet to open their minds to. The export of agricultural produce alone is one of the various opportunities. Taking advantage of the exchange rate amounts to an explosive profit. Besides, the exchange rate saga is what attracts these youths to illegal migration in the first place. Nigeria is very powerful in agriculture, yet many youths are blind to this. The youths must also understand that they are the key drivers of food sustainability in the nation. Without the youths well engaged in agriculture, food sustainability would be almost impossible to achieve within the nation. The likes of sesame seeds, cashew nuts, cocoa butter, ginger, soya beans, and many others have had tremendous export hits over the years and still do today. Those smart youths who have been engaged in the farming of these products down to exportation have taken great advantage of the hard currency which many of these illegal immigrants so desire, without having to migrate illegally. The opportunities in agriculture are very extensive and I myself have started engaging rigorously in it.

The consistent breakthroughs in the field of science and technology have led to high demand for youths with digital and computer-oriented skills. Graphic designers, programmers, web developers, and data visualization experts are well paid and widely requested these days. Youths can learn these required skills online and catch the train of those promoting science and technology in Nigeria, and all over the world. Some smart youths even engage freelance platforms and offer these skills to the world where they once again take advantage of the exchange rate. Platforms to offer up digital skills as well as learn them are readily available, many are free while others are offered at discounted rates. Several times, the government has partnered with platforms such as Coursera, Microsoft, and many other platforms to offer digital training freely to Nigerians, even to the point of certification. Even with the current technological revolution, many Nigerian youths are yet to explore this path.

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In recent times, I also discovered that many youths do not have access to some vital information even though they carry around devices with internet connectivity. Many forms of grants, funds, and opportunities are often released by the government to assist Nigerian Youths, businesses, and even startups, but ignorance keeps many youths in the dark. This issue of ignorance must be brought to the ears of Nigerian Youths who miss out on every opportunity proffered by the government.

Asides from the lack of access to information, I also found it humorous when I conducted a local survey in my community to identify those who applied for the youth fund proffered by the government last year, I was not surprised but humored to find out that all the youths I asked who knew about the funds did not apply, and were not interested in applying. They called it a waste of time and were certain they would not get any part of the fund even if they applied and were eligible by the books. This posed to me another mindset in the Nigerian youths which should be corrected. It is often said that one who does not run a race has failed even before the race begins. The Nigerian youths should be encouraged to apply for funds and support proffered by the government rather than cage their dreams and ideas due to lack of funds.

Regarding the idea of making this country a better and more peaceful place, it begins with every Nigerian youth. A family friend abroad once asked my uncle how he had been coping in the jungle, by jungle, he was referring to the country, based on all his experiences while in Nigeria. The enabling environment the youths so desire to fulfill their dreams starts from them, in their minds, and is in every way achievable.

I must not fail, however, to confess that the government has much work to do in curbing illegal migration. The problem of illegal migration is simply a result of desperation to get a better life abroad via migration, yet lacking the funds to do so legally. One must understand that it takes great sacrifice to migrate to another country illegally. These folks abandon their own people, family, culture, and traditions, putting their lives at risk for an unforeseen future. This only proves their strong belief that the country cannot provide them the enabling environment to fulfill their dreams.

The government needs to be more conscious of human capital. To build a nation, one must build the people in it. Many folks who migrate illegally from Nigeria do not have solid vocational skills to keep them busy, they cannot access student loans to go to school, and those who have great ideas cannot access funds to grow these ideas. Idleness, unemployment, and lack of finance lead these youths to result in options of illegal migration. Some don’t find it an exaggeration when it is said that Nigeria would need three times its population as a workforce to explore all its natural resources at the same time. This infers that the process of exploration can solve a large part of the unemployment problem, let alone utilizing these resources.

In solving the problem of ignorance among the Nigerian youths, the government needs to ensure proper dissemination of information that could help young Nigerians in terms of finance and support. There should be a single official website owned by the federal government, where offers, opportunities, and youth funds are publicized, rather than exhausting the youths, leaving them to search the entire internet for hours to get hold of these details. Even if the application websites must be different, a standard webpage should be created where youths can access all available opportunities, government grants and offers in the country such that they see clearly the efforts of the government in promoting their success. This may change the mindset of many youths about the government and the country, especially when they can see all existing government offers at the same time, they relax, assured of the government’s support in fulfilling their dreams.

The Nigerian youths love sports, and love to engage in recreational activities, but these facilities are not available in many Nigerian local government areas, the available sporting infrastructures which are far off are not even attractive enough to keep them busy and engaged with their sports talent.

Infrastructural development, technology, and innovation need to be encouraged to create the enabling environment needed for these youths to succeed. I do not intend to emphasize the economic challenges in the country, but the youths need to have their mindsets re-orientated about the country, see clearly that there are many ways to succeed in this country, and that there is absolutely no need to migrate illegally. It is also quite clear that the government has a role to play in channeling the energy of these Youths away from illegal migration, and in re-orientating their mindsets. The youths too have to be patient, understand, and look deeply to see the great opportunities abound in this nation, their home, which they may never find elsewhere. As the force of the giant of Africa, let us live, think, focus, achieve, and make Nigeria great again.

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