EU pledges support to tackle migration, boost Nigerian economy

Mr Gianni Pittella
  • As Osinbajo seeks Reps’ approval for $1.28bn, €9m loans

Mr Gianni Pittella, President, Group of the Progressive Alliance of Democrats and Socialist in the European Parliament, has pledged a new approach by the European Union (EU) to tackle migration issues and boost Nigerian economy.

Pittella made the pledge on Tuesday in Abuja during a visit of the EU delegation to Nigeria and the EU parliament to the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI).

He said that the EU would adopt a new approach aimed at creating a long term vision and targeted at addressing economic, political and migration issues currently facing the country.

According to Pittela, this would be a shift from the wrong approach it had previously engaged in that had a short term vision.

“Nigeria is a crucial country and is leading in many issues that are very important for the people of Nigeria and also for the European Union and European Citizens.

“Nigeria is tackling issues in the areas of migration, the fight against the terrorists and the necessity to help victims of insurgency, ensuring god government to a stronger development and boost the economy.

“ We as the EU owes it as a duty to cooperate with you.

“ Maybe we made some mistakes in a wrong approach with Africa in general because in the past, we tried to work on a short term relationship, a short term vision but now it is time to change this approach.

“My group has assumed Africa as a political priority and we would take on a new approach, a long term vision that would bring a real political and development partnership between the European Union and Africa and Nigeria,’’ Pitella said.

Pittella said that on migration issues, the EU would facilitate the speedy return agreement and would ensure legal channels for economic migration.

He explained that migration when it is legal and done through the proper channel has economic benefits on a nation’s economy.

He said that the EU would support Nigeria on its investment plan to encourage and support the investors which would in turn create jobs and boost economic development.

The President of the group said that the EU parliament would look into ensuring the dignified returns of illegal migrants to enable them reintegrate into their societies on return.

In her remark, the Federal Commissioner of the Commission, Hajiya Sadiya Farouk called on the parliament to ensure the dignified return of Nigerian nationals even in cases of deportation.

She said that most times, illegal migrants are deported to Nigeria in a very pathetic manner and this poses great threat to the nation as they would no longer be able to function well in the society.

Farouk said that in Nigeria, the root causes of migration are multi-dimensional and arises from push factors ranging from poverty, natural disasters, conflicts, unemployment, unfavorable business environment among others.

She said that to address some of the issues of illegal migration, Nigeria has elaborated its National Migration policy which was approved by the Federal Executive Council on May 13, 2015.

The Federal Commissioner said that this shows the commitment of the Nigerian government to coordinate mechanisms and approach for the protection of the human rights of migrants.

Farouk said the policy also includes strategies to discourage irregular migration in line with the objectives of the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

She said that presently, efforts are being made to institutionalize a manual of operation developed for conducting returns, readmission and reintegration programmes for returnees sustainable manner.

The team was led by Mr Micheal Arrison, Ambassador of the EU to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) .

In the meantime, the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has requested approval of the House of Representatives for fresh $1.28bn and €9m loans under the 2016-2018 External Borrowing (Rolling) Plans of the Federal Government.

A letter he wrote to the House of Representatives on the matter was read to members by the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, on Tuesday in Abuja.

Osinbajo explained that the $1.28bn was to support the operations of the Development Bank of Nigeria.

He said the “multi-donor supported bank” was approved during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan and had its financial agreements executed on February 25, 2015.

However, the acting President stated that the $1.28bn, which ought to have been included in the 2014-2016 borrowing plans, was inadvertently omitted.

He noted that there was an urgency to re-list the $1.28bn in the 2016-2018 borrowing plans because the creditors were ready to provide the funding.

For instance, Osinbajo said the World Bank Group would provide $500m; African Development Bank, $450m; Kfw Development of Germany, $200m; and French Development Agency, $130m, bringing the total to $1.28bn.

The letter added that the €9m would go into the Fund for Agricultural Finance in Nigeria.

Osinbajo stated that the Kfw Development Bank of Germany would provide the money.

He stated, “The first phase (FAFIN-I) was in the €10.5m and the financing agreement was executed on the 3rd of October, 2013. It is an investment facility in agricultural financing. The first tranche of FAFIN-I has been fully disbursed and the donor is ready to provide another tranche of €9m for FAFIN-II.

“The second tranche is for the consolidation of the gains in the investment of the first tranche.”

Earlier on April 26, 2017, President Muhammadu Buhari had written the National Assembly seeking approval to include another $6.9bn in the borrowing plans.

The facility was requested for the execution of key rail projects, the rehabilitation of the North-East and projects in education, agriculture and health sectors.

According to the President’s request, the Chinese, through the China Eximbank, will provide over $5.8bn of the loan, while the World Bank will make provisions for the balance.

Among the rail projects are the Coastal Railway Project (Lagos-Calabar segment), estimated at $3.4bn; the Lagos-Kano Railway Modernisation Project (Lagos-Ibadan segment), $1.2bn; and the Lagos-Kano Railway Modernisation Project (Kano-Kaduna segment), $1.1bn.

Additional report from Punch