Addressing key issues on how financial exclusion leads to poverty, lack of opportunity, lower economic growth, and the way to go in tackling the issues that could help spur Nigeria’s economic growth.
Alex Oturu, Head of Migration at the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Person (IDPs), pointed out the challenges that usually lead to the migration of many Nigerians especially the young ones through various borders by foot.
He cited financial and economic issues as the major reasons behind them leaving the country.
“Most of these people are financially excluded, as they do not have access to financial institutions, with many of them unbanked, as they are mostly from the rural areas with very poor background, especially from Edo and Delta states,” Oturu said.
He said it usually seem to these migrants that it is too hard for them to start a business or it is too hard for them to live a good life, and so they just feel like the best way to move forward is for them to go to a place where they feel there is a better economy and there is access to fund.
“When you look at Nigerian bank rate it is very high for a lot of them and they do not have collateral considering most of them are fresh graduate and probably they the only ones that are educated in their families, and so they feel like they have no choice other than to embark on these trips,” the guest explained.
In explaining the differences between refuges, migrants and IDPs, the guest said refugees are people who come into Nigeria in the course of some crisis in their countries, probably persecution, and have been recognised by the Nigerian government as refugees.
Although he said for the fact that anyone comes into Nigeria because of a crisis does not mean they are automatically a refugee.
“Sometimes, we tend to call people who have been displaced probably due to attack by the Boko haram insurgency, refugees. They are not refugees they are internal displaced persons because they are still within their country,” Oturu said on the radio program”.
He explained that Refugees in the general sense of the world are migrants and an IDP is also a migrant. But in his instance he said he was talking about returning migrants, that is those set of people who attempted to travel international probably in an irregular manner, that is they do not have proper travel document and so they tend to use some means that are not legal.
They are therefore called irregular migrants not illegal because the United Nations (UN) decided that one cannot criminalize a human being of such category but can say their method of travelling is irregular, and so they are irregular.
So if they are returning migrants, obviously they should have right of every Nigerians and certainly they should have access to financial products and services.
The root course for actually travelling in the first place, as discussed on the show, was due to lack of financial service because of the level of poverty in where migrants are coming from, the level of exposure, and the level of education as regards these products and services.
Also another challenge that was cited was that Nigerian banks can have very high rates when one is trying to get a loan to start a business and as such it does not seem viable for these kind of people that comes from that kind of background.
“A refugee is supposed to have all the rights that a citizen has, they get refugee Identity Card (ID) and when they go to open a bank account the financial institutions says they do not recognise the IDs , they do not know what it is, they can not accept the cards and they ask them to bring other forms of IDs that they know of, like international passport and the likes, which these set of person do not have,” he added.
The guest stressed on the fact that there are need to educate financial institutions in that regard so they do not end up being excluded and therefore embarking on dangerous travels.
When asked the measures that need to be put in place to help bring in either the refugees, migrant and IDPs Oturu said there is need for education across board, there is need for enlightenment because a lot of the migrants are unbanked and under banked in some cases.
He said there should also be some packages that are unique or specific to the various situations they find themselves, “like I mentioned that some banks not accepting the refugees ID cards or not even knowing what it is.”
As such there is need for education on both sides, he said there has to be education on the part of the financial institutions and also on the side of the these persons of concerns. Building packages that will accommodate them is another major thing that should be considered by the financial institutions.
This is following the fact that some of these people in these categories do not have collateral or the necessary documents that will make them eligible like the regular Nigerians have which can help them get access to financial services and products. So things should be tailored to serve them because of their peculiar situations.
On how to go about documenting the migrants, refugees and IDPs the guest said they have registration like the ID cards and there are also government agencies that are responsible in handling them and providing vital information about them.
He however pointed out the fact that there is need for synergy across boards for the stakeholders and institutions to realise that these are peculiar kind of people, as such they are supposed to have their information and there is also a national commission for refugees, Migrants and IDPs and other bodies that oversee their affairs. so information and all that should be known as them can be gotten from these bodies.
The guest said he believed exclusion of these peculiar kinds of people is not only a Nigerian problem, as it is also experienced in other parts of Sub-Saharan Africa.
He concluded by saying that there is also need for the private sectors to take the lead sometimes, and that these issues should not be left for the government alone. As such urged financial institutions and other profit and non-profit organisations to explore the opportunity.