Why Nigerians choose to go to Europe? 

Nigeria, a nation teeming with a population exceeding 200 million, is witnessing a significant exodus of its citizens towards Europe, with a notable preference for the United Kingdom. According to World Bank data, the country’s population witnessed a robust 2.4% growth in 2023, contributing to an average annual growth rate of around 2.6%.

Nonso Onowu on January 17, 2024 Average reading time: 4 min
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Why Nigerians choose to go to Europe? 

Nigeria, a nation teeming with a population exceeding 200 million, is witnessing a significant exodus of its citizens towards Europe, with a notable preference for the United Kingdom. According to World Bank data, the country’s population witnessed a robust 2.4% growth in 2023, contributing to an average annual growth rate of around 2.6%.

If this trajectory persists, Nigeria’s population could potentially double within the next 25 to 30 years.

This rapid growth is prompting many Nigerians to explore opportunities beyond their homeland, with Europe, particularly the UK, emerging as a favoured destination, according to research professional news. The surge in the number of Nigerians residing in other countries, almost tripling from 1990 to 2020, reflects an evolving trend wherein more individuals are searching for a life abroad. 

Economic Disparities and Currency Stability

The economic situation in Nigeria plays an important role in driving citizens toward considering a life in Europe. The volatility of the Nigerian Naira contributes to financial challenges, making the stability of the Euro an attractive prospect.

The exchange rate of the euro to the Naira, at (EUR1 to NGN1047.79), highlights the instability of the Nigerian currency.

As of January 17, 2023, the exchange rate of the euro to the Naira, at (EUR1 to NGN1047.79), highlights the instability of the Nigerian currency. This disparity is further magnified by the stark difference in remuneration, with the European minimum wage ranging between €2.41-€14.29 per hour compared to Nigeria’s minimum wage of €0.165 per hour (NGN160.63 per hour).

The economic challenges are highlighted by the fact that around 46% of Nigerians live below the national poverty line, and an estimated 104 million are in impoverished conditions according to data from the World banks 2023 Nigeria Development Update.

The potential food insecurity crisis affecting 19.4 million Nigerians intensifies the urgency for seeking opportunities abroad, where stable currency, higher wages, and improved living standards become powerful incentives. 

Unemployment

Unemployment in Nigeria, reported at 4.2% in Q2 2023 by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS), has seen a slight increase from the previous quarter. However, these numbers only scratch the surface of a more complex narrative. Significant changes in unemployment statistics reveal a decline from 33.3% in Q4 2020 to 5.3% (Q4 2022), attributed to a refined employment definition in line with the International labor organization standards (ILO). This revised approach distinguishes between underemployment and unemployment, providing a more precise portrayal of the labor market. The exclusion of subsistence agricultural workers from the employed category, coupled with improved sampling methods and data quality monitoring, enhances the clarity of the new unemployment rate, allowing for international comparisons that align with Western and Central Africa’s averages at 4.7% in 2022.

Simultaneously, the youth unemployment rate for individuals aged 15-24 has increased from 6.9% to 7.2% in Q1 2023. Despite these Numbers, Nigerians are exploring alternative avenues for personal and professional growth. Europe, with its low unemployment rates and a high demand for labor, presents an attractive destination. Many Nigerians are seizing this opportunity, reflecting a global trend of migration for better employment prospects. The struggle for gainful employment not only impacts individual aspirations but also places economic strain on families and communities, making overseas employment increasingly appealing.

Education (UK preferred destination)

Many Nigerians choose to come to Europe for educational purposes, seeking opportunities to study and enhance their knowledge.

Among the various European destinations, the United Kingdom stands out as a particularly favoured choice for Nigerian students. 

Nigerian students often find the educational system in the UK appealing due to its reputable universities, diverse academic programs, and a globally recognized education system. The preference for the UK is rooted in the belief that it offers a high-quality learning experience and opens doors to promising career opportunities. 

However, a recent policy change in the UK has added a layer of complexity to the decision-making process for Nigerian students.

Starting from January 1st, 2024, international students studying in the UK will no longer be able to bring dependents with them on their student visas

Starting from January 1st, 2024, international students studying in the UK will no longer be able to bring dependents with them on their student visas, except for those enrolled in research postgraduate programs. This policy shift has prompted many Nigerian students to explore alternative educational opportunities in other countries. 

Despite this challenge, the inclination towards the UK remains strong, and Nigerians are actively seeking alternatives that align with their academic and personal aspirations. The search for viable options has led some to consider countries with welcoming immigration policies, robust educational systems, and potential career prospects. This dynamic situation highlights the resilience and adaptability of Nigerian students in navigating changes in international education policies. 

Family-Centric Values and Remittances 

The strong emphasis on family values among Nigerians is a significant factor influencing migration trends. The commitment to the welfare of extended family members is evident in the substantial inflow of remittances, averaging over $20 billion annually. These remittances play a crucial role in enhancing household incomes and addressing various needs, including education, healthcare, housing, and daily living expenses. The act of sending remittances becomes a tangible expression of migrants’ commitment to ensuring the prosperity and progress of their families back home, reinforcing family bonds despite physical distances. 

Insecurity

Nigeria’s significant security challenges, highlighted by its ranking at 143 out of 163 nations in the 2022 Global Peace Index according to the International Trade Administration (ITA), these contribute to the appeal of safety and stability in Europe.

The concerning terrorism index, with groups like Boko Haram and ISWAP perpetrating attacks, along with the escalation of community clashes and kidnappings, adds complexity to the security situation.

The tangible impact of these security challenges, both in terms of incidents and the financial toll through substantial ransom payments, underscores the pivotal role of security issues in motivating Nigerians to seek a more stable life in Europe. 

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