Alex Enumah in Abuja
The government of Austria thursday unveiled of plans to repatriate about 1,000 Nigerian irregular migrants in that country after the completion of a training programme underway.
The countryâ€™s Director General, International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), Michael Spindelegger, who gave the hint thursday at the meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said the training is aimed at preparing them for gainful employment in Austrian companies to be set up later in Nigeria.
According to the envoy, the proposed programme would facilitate reversed migration of the irregular migrants, who have no likelihood of being given legal residents in Austria.
â€œIt is a new idea of how to combine future investment in Nigeria with the return of irregular migrants. A lot of companies are interested in investing in Nigeria because of its market. The idea is to train these irregular migrants before repatriating them so that when they come back, they will have something to do instead of becoming liabilities.
â€œThe idea is also to encourage more Austrian companies to come and invest in Nigeria so that they also could contribute to solving the problem of unemployment and irregular migrationâ€, he said.
Spindelegger added that there is provision for asylum in Europe but in a situation where an emigrant fails to secure asylum, the person would be deported at the long run.
â€œFor them, there is no chance of remaining in the country because once they are picked, they would not be allowed to take anything but would be brought back to their country empty.
â€œThere are about 1,000 Nigerians not granted refugee status living in Austria. The programme is starting with Nigeria as a pilot, then, we will see what the experience is before extending it to other countries.â€
He stressed that though only few Austrian companies exist in Nigeria currently, efforts were being made to convince companies involved in the programme to come and invest in Nigeria.
â€œIt is also part of the programme. They can get benefits from the European Union for the investment, which serves as more business security for Nigerians.
Responding, Onyeama, commended the initiative, noting that it will not only have Nigerians come back home to contribute to national development, but also attract foreign investors.
â€œIt could be companies in Austria that are interested in investing in any sector of Nigerian economy. They would be selecting from Nigerian irregular migrants in Austria, train them and send them down to Nigeria to work with their companies in Nigeriaâ€, he said.
The minister however dismisses fears of likely ploy to deport Nigerians in the country through the process. â€œRemember that those Nigerians are in that country illegally, and do not have any prospect of regularising their stay. As such, they would be deported in any case.
â€œSo, instead of being deported with the shame that comes with it, they would be given training and guaranteed employment with the companies that would be coming to invest in Nigeria,â€ the minister stressed.