Address causes of youth migration, senator tells ECOWAS

The Senator representing Kogi Central, Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan, has called on the Economic Community of West African States to shift its focus from halting youth migration to understanding and tackling the negative reasons behind it.

Speaking at the ECOWAS Parliament session on Saturday, she emphasised the need to address the underlying factors driving young people to leave their countries.

Akpoti-Uduaghan cited examples of successful Nigerians who have made significant contributions internationally, including Silas Adekunle, a 31-year-old robotic engineer, and Abigail Marshall Katung, the Mayor of Leeds.

She said, “Today, Nigerians are making our country proud internationally. One example is Silas Adekunle, who at the age of 31 became the world’s highest-paid robotic engineer.

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“Not long ago, we celebrated Lord Mayor Abigail Marshall Katung, a Nigerian woman who migrated to the UK and grew to become the Mayor of Leeds, the UK’s second-largest city.

“This global economy means that young people may need to leave their country in search of better opportunities. Immigration isn’t all bad; however, it’s the intent and context that matter. I exist today because my father left the shores of Nigeria to Ukraine (then USSR) in search of greener pastures both academically and economically.”

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Natasha added, “As a mother of eight, I struggle to encourage my children to return to Nigeria and contribute to the development of their home country. This personal experience makes me better understand why millions of young people in Nigeria and West Africa choose to migrate in pursuit of better jobs and financial prospects.”

As solutions, she proposed that ECOWAS leaders should, “encourage Africans in the diaspora to transfer knowledge and opportunities to their home countries, like the Ethiopian cotton industry and Indian technology industry.

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“Encourage trade amongst African countries to keep jobs within borders and strengthen the collective economy.

“Encourage startups, especially in the tech sector, with access to finance, market access, angel investors, fiscal incentives, and tax waivers to boost the young entrepreneurs’ ecosystem.

“By addressing these issues, according to her, ECOWAS can create a more conducive environment for young people to thrive in their home countries, reducing the need for migration.”

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