Over the past decade, Nigeria has experienced significant migration flows, both internal and external. The oil boom of the 1970s was a major draw for foreigners, with the country experiencing more immigration than emigration, but that was not to last long. Quite quickly, in the 1980s to be precise, more and more Nigerians were leaving the country due to political instability and economic downturn.
Since the 1980s, Nigeria with the largest population in Africa has maintained a Net migration and in early 1983, the Nigerian government announced that all illegal migrants in Nigeria must leave. Due to the unavailability of hard data, estimates vary, but up to 2 million people are believed to have been forced to leave, with Ghanaians accounting for half the number. In 1985, another expulsion was carried out with an approximate number of around 250,000.
Immigration to Nigeria has remained very heterogeneous, with the total number of international immigrants in the country increasing significantly. The majority of Nigeria’s immigrant population is made up of ECOWAS countries, particularly Benin, Ghana, Mali, Togo and Niger, which constitute 74% of the total immigrants residing in Nigeria. Indian, Lebanese, Greek and Chinese nationals have also found refuge in Nigeria, running decades-old family businesses and forging lifelong bonds in the country.
In recent times, significant reforms have been made to Nigeria’s migration policy, such as the 2015 law National migration policy. Although the focus is more on Nigeria’s emigration trends and diaspora citizens, there are a host of legal and policy frameworks that reflect ease of mobility rather than strict immigration control. Today, The Giant of Africa remains a destination country for highly skilled migrants and is often prominent in engineering, education, and general and business management. The immigration rate is proof that the Nigerian economy, despite apparent difficulties, remains attractive to regional and international migrants.
For many Nigerian migrants, Nigeria has been the country of origin since the 19th century. Most of the migrants are third or even fourth generation migrants, meaning their families have been in Nigeria for several generations. The Lebanese, for example, first arrived in Nigeria in 1890, the Greeks, whose presence predated Nigeria’s independence, numbered over 10,000 before the 1980s, the Chinese had begun to reside in Nigeria before the 1930s and by the end of the 19th century, Indians had already established a commercial presence in Nigeria.
One thing rings true across migrant demographics, – Nigeria’s main draw is its highly viable business sector. Here in Nigeria, migrant businesses have flourished since the 1990s with conglomerates like Greek-owned Leventis Group of Companies, China Civil Engineering and Construction Company (CCECC), Indian-owned Chellarams Plc and Lebanese-owned Aim Group flourishing. overtime.
In a 2019 docu-film, father’s land, Devesh Uba explores the ties that Indians have with Nigeria. Devesh, an Indian photographer, who was living in Nigeria at the time, was intrigued by the thriving Indian community in Nigeria and the willingness of his fellow Indians to settle in a country whose prospects looked very bleak to those left behind. country.
Devesh’s documentary does more than reveal Nigeria’s commercial appeal and touches on the ease with which migrants in Nigeria acclimate. One obvious reason for this ease of adjustment is the general good humor of the average Nigerian. In a 2015 interview, when asked about her experience living in Nigeria, British expat Clementine Wallop described Nigerians as “funny, kind and interesting people; it’s cliché but you never get bored.
father’s land is a very heartfelt docu-film that gives us the opportunity to see Nigeria through the eyes of people who have left their country and found their place here in Nigeria. These migrant entrepreneurs who have made a name for themselves here recognize the challenges of running a business in Nigeria. Despite the country’s many opportunities, Indian traders Gautam Kumar and Sudhanshu Gaurav, who have been in Nigeria since 2006 and 2011 respectively, describe the business environment in Nigeria as “too stuffy”. Despite the obstacles they face here, they persevere, staying where many of them fondly refer to their homeland, christening Nigeria their second homeland.
Watch Devesh Uba’s docu-film here.