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Home Reducing Unemployment through Migration.....Ahmed Adamu, PhD

Reducing Unemployment through Migration…..Ahmed Adamu, PhD

There are more than 130 million Nigerians who are either unemployable, unemployed, or underemployed. This situation exacerbates extreme poverty and fuels increasing insecurity.

Despite the continued government borrowing and various interventions to address these menaces, the situation is exacerbating. A different strategy has to be in place to achieve a different result because it is insanity to keep doing the same thing and expect a different result.

One of the out-of-the-box solutions to unemployment is an organized migration program where Nigeria should plan to send up to 20 million Nigerians to work abroad in ten years.

Irregular migration is growing in Africa, with Nigeria recording the highest number of illegal migrants, mostly young people. Economic hardships are pushing more people to leave Nigeria to migrate illegally in search of better lives.

Hypothetically, three-in-ten Nigerians wish to leave Nigeria in anticipation of a better life abroad. A young Nigerian said he better die in the desert trying to migrate than to stay in Nigeria. And most times, these illegal migrates are exposed to severe threats, violations of human rights, and slavery. And yet, they are willing to pay money to be trafficked abroad.

Nigeria is one of the countries with the highest surpluses of the small and semi-skilled labor force, and new job opportunities always seem too small.

For every decent job opportunity created, at least one hundred people will apply for it. There are no corresponding opportunities to meet the growing number of small skilled laborers in Nigeria. This situation creates an enormous redundant labor force. Then what do we do with them?

The Nigerian government should design a migration program to create opportunities for this redundant labor force. It will enable eligible Nigerians to register to join the migration program. The program will create a pool of capable Nigerians who fulfilled some technical and medical requirements for recruitment in some selected foreign countries.

The government will enter into a bilateral agreement with some developed countries that need a labor force. These countries will also establish a pool of employers in their countries who may wish to choose from the Nigerian stream of prospective employees/laborers.

Each country will specify its labor force requirement, including technical and language skills that will enable Nigerian laborers to fit in and start working immediately upon arrival.

Eligible Nigerians will sign up and indicate three top countries of their choice. They will state their competitive skills and spoken languages. There will be one-year preparatory training for all Nigerians who made it to the pool to enhance their employability abroad.

The training will be specific to the intended country of destination. For example, people that want to go to Japan would need the skills that the Japanese employers need. And they will have to learn the Japanese language.

The Nigerian government will send the CVs of those that successfully learned these skills to the Japanese employers’ pool for selection. It is the prerogative of the employers to choose who they want to pick.

The Nigerian government will negotiate for the wages of the beneficiaries and ensure their proper placement. The government should be responsible for their flight ticket once for the initial trip to the intended destination.

The program is an employer and employee matching pool, where employers search to find their perfect marching employees. There will be some contract agreements to ensure the employers and the employees fulfill their obligations.

With this organized migration policy, young Nigerians will not be risking their lives to irregularly migrate as they stand better chances to go to their destination with dignity.

I initially posted my speech on this policy on my social media, and subsequently, many Nigerians, including professionals, indicated an interest in this program. It means that there are many more Nigerians who may be interested in this program.

Exports of natural resources are not limited to mineral resources but also human resources. Exporting human resources will improve Nigeria’s balance of payment.

In the last quarter of this year, Nigeria’s value of imports stood at N7 trillion, while non-oil exports stood at N1 trillion. Sending Nigerians to work abroad will increase international remittance. It will also increase the receipts in the components of the balance of payment of Nigeria.

This policy will also help fix the exchange rate crisis in Nigeria since international remittance will increase the supply of the dollar and then appreciate the value of Naira, which will reduce inflation and increase job opportunities.

In 2019, Nigerians working abroad sent in about $26 billion to Nigeria. This kind of remittance is the second-largest source of foreign exchange receipts after oil revenues in Nigeria.

Increasing international remittance will reduce poverty. Nigerians working abroad will be sending money to their relatives back at home, which will help alleviate poverty among households. This kind of opportunity will also reduce the pressure on the available job opportunities in the country.

Someone talked about the brain drain that this policy might lead to, but there will not be a realization of the full benefit if you asked all the capable Nigerians to stay in Nigeria to work. Because if they do, they will be frustrated and perform far below their potentials. So, keeping some of them is wasting them for now.

Other countries like the Philippines, Pakistan, Ethiopia, and Bangladesh are also implementing a similar policy. And it is adding a positive impact on their economy. There should be other complementary unemployment reduction programs in Nigeria, as this policy alone cannot fix unemployment.

Finally, this program will help increase government tax revenue, as the government can charge taxes for each dollar remitted. The government should use these receipts for building infrastructures that will incentivize new job opportunities.

Ahmed Adamu, PhD
Nile University, Abuja
ahmadadamu1@gmail.com
18th November 2021
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