President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has said Nigerians must insist that there are no northern or southern citizens in the country, but a people and a race bounded by the same history and constitution.
The President said this on Thursday in Abuja, at the maiden edition of the Annual National Migration Dialogue, organized by the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Person (NCRMIDP) with the theme: Better Migration Management as a Tool for National Development.”
President Jonathan, who spoke through Vice President Arc Mohammed Namadi Sambo, emphasized that the Nigerian Constitution and even the recommendations of the recently concluded National Conference guaranteed the right of every Nigerian to reside anywhere in the country without discrimination.
He said “Our ethnic diversity, ideally, should be a source of strength, not weakness; a country where people freely profess and practice their respective religious belief anywhere within our national boundaries; without any fear of discrimination. The future I see, is of a nation where people are no longer identified by their ethnic or religious affiliation but by the very virtue of their Citizenship as Nigerians. This issue of indigene or non-indigene must stop.”
The President acknowledging the role migration plays in national development said evidence had shown that Nigeria has the highest volume of international migrants, and the largest remittances in sub-Saharan Africa with 65 per cent of recorded remittances, worth 20.76 billion dollars in 2013, according to CBN statistics .
He therefore stressed that Nigeria, while aiming to mitigate the negative impact of migration would continually deploy strategies to encourage Nigerians in the Diaspora to invest remittances in social infrastructure, human capital development and other activities, adding that his administration had made it a cardinal principle that Nigerians must be treated humanely and with dignity in any country of their residence.
Speaking on internally displaced persons, the President observed that people do not get displaced by choice, stressing that the government was fully aware and sensitive that the current cause of internal displacement in Nigeria is the insurgency in the North-east, he therefore emphasised that government was making efforts to ensure it addressed the insurgency squarely, adding that he had directed that victims must be given due care and maintenance without any form of social exclusion.
On the national migration dialogue, he stated that the dialogue would help shape Nigeria’s national migratory orientation, while also stressing the need for “the debate to give priority attention to the protection of the rights of Nigerian migrants; both internal and international and also protect the rights of foreigners in our country.”
In her remarks the Federal Commissioner for Refugees, Hajiya Hadiza Sani Kangiwa, revealing that Nigeria was the first country in the ECOWAS sub-region to institute the dialogue, said it was conceived as a strategy for mainstreaming migration into the post development agenda, and also a derivation of the draft National Migration Policy document.
According to her the objective of the dialogue was to provide a platform for debating the impact and linkages between migration and development thereby shaping Nigeria’s national migratory linkages and also to provide an opportunity for reviewing the various operational challenges at the implementation level.
Hajiya Kangiwa said participants at the dialogue were drawn from the 36 States of the federation and also has the participation of international development partners like the International Organisation for Migration.
The event comes as the world celebrates the International Migrants Day 2014.
FOR: UMAR SANI (SSA MEDIA AND PUBLICITY TO THE VICE PRESIDENT)