By Chimezie Godfrey
The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development Sadiya Farouq has said that with right policies and partnerships, migration can bring about positive economic and development impact to both the destination and origin countries.
Represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Nura Alkali, she stressed that the challenges of migration are worse with the alarming increase in the volume, complexity and threat in international migration.
She said,”On behalf of Mr. President and the government of Federal Republic of Nigeria, l wish to warmly welcome the delegation of the Switzerland government led by my dear sister, Karin Keller-Stutter.
“Your daring all odds presented by COVID19 to be here in person, shows the deep commitment of your government to this partnership. Your Excellences, l am honored for the opportunity to be part of this occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Nigeria-Switzerland cooperation.
“l am particularly pleased because of the uniqueness of this decade-long exemplary relationship between Nigeria and Switzerland. Exemplary, because it is built on mutual trust, respect, progress and openness.
“For us in Nigeria, it is a celebration of success.Suffices to say that there is no time in the history of international relationship that the management of migration across international borders has been easy or free from numerous and diverse challenges.
“The situation is even worse with the alarming increase in the volume, complexity and threat in international migration.
“Nevertheless, irrespective of the difficulties in logistics and politics, empirical record shows that with right policies and partnerships, migration can always bring about positive economic and development impact to both the destination and origin countries as well as migrants themselves.”
The Minister noted that no single nation can manage the challenges of migration, as stressed the need for strategic collaboration and partnership amongst nations.
“Indeed, no single state or organization can manage migration alone.Your Excellences, Distinguished Guest, Ladies and Gentlemen, I must state that Nigeria believes in strategic collaboration and partnership and has engaged and entered into bilateral and multilateral partnership both intra and intercontinental.
“In all this, the Nigeria/Switzerland bilateral partnership is outstanding and enjoys a unique kind of strategic relationship based on mutual trust and respect for each other.
“Permit me to state that our partnership with the Swiss in all its ramifications is often used as a reference point in our diplomatic engagements with other nations,” she said.
The Minister further said that the Nigeria-Swiss Bilateral Partnership on Migration conducted under the Joint Technical Committee (JTC) has proven to be a model of diplomatic pragmatism on issues of common interest specifically relating to migration.
According to her, this strong Migration Partnership between Nigeria and Switzerland was signed in 2011.
“It aimed at intensifying the cooperation between the two countries in the field of migration especially in ensuring humane and dignified return of irregular migrants from Switzerland to Nigeria with benefits attached to facilitate their reintegration into the society.
“The partnership has over the years expanded to provide a number of laudable projects targeted towards better management of migration in Nigeria and mainstreaming migration into development.
“Prominent among the projects is consolidating migration governance architecture which has facilitated the decentralization of migration governance to the Nigerian six geopolitical zones and institutionalizing a whole of government and whole of society approach in migration governance by integrating the civil society organisations and the academia into the architecture,” she said.
She added that other projects include the NESTLE initiative which was another of such pragmatic solutions designed and implemented to directly benefit the Nigeria youths; capacity building initiatives for Nigeria border and trafficking in Person agencies as well as police cooperation,among others.
In his remark, Federal Commissioner, National Commission For Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI), Senator Basheer Mohammed, noted that the diplomatic relationship between Nigeria and Switzerland has spanned sixty years.
“The two countries established diplomatic relations shortly afterwards, and Switzerland opened an embassy in Lagos a year later, in 1961. This means that the relationship has spanned about sixty years and it is growing in leaps and bounds.
“Therefore, the presence of the Swiss Federal Councillor/Minister of Justice and Police, Mrs Karin Keller-Sutter and other high level Swiss officials, underscore the importance of today’s event in the existing diplomatic relationship and collaboration between the two countries.
“It is worthy of note that to Nigeria, the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) programme implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and fashioned after the Swiss model, has resulted in Returnees starting small projects that have blossomed.
“The idea behind the programme is to give returning Nigerians other options besides being forced to go home on a flight under guard– known as “forced repatriation”.
“It is all about returning with dignity and coming back home to live a better life,” he said.
Sen. Basheer disclosed that the Migration Partnership established between the Governments of both countries came into existence in February 2011.
“This Agreement was signed between the Global Programme on Migration and Development (GPMD) of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI).
“The Agreement was signed in Abuja, FCT, on Thursday 25th September, 2014, and aims to support Nigeria, through the NCFRMI, as the coordinating Agency for migration and related issues in Nigeria, to achieve cohesion and coherence in the implementation of the 2015 National Migration Policy; as well as to further institutionalize the Annual National Migration Dialogue, as a platform for effective and inclusive migration governance in Nigeria,” he stressed.
The Federal Councillor, Head of the Federal Department of Justice and Police, Switzerland, Karin Keller-Sutter in her speech said that the migration partnership between Nigeria and Switzerland is an ideal example how a bilateral relations can be used to address common challenges in a positive way.
“For the past 10 years, we have strengthened our cooperation by sharing expertise and best practices in implementing migration mechanisms, fighting human trafficking, preventing irregular migration, facilitating return and reintegration, and enabling sustainable labour migration.
“These exchanges have also allowed both our countries to appreciate the opportunities migration can present and have helped us to better understand its challenges,” she said.