Austria has completed the process of organising skills acquisition programmes for at least 1000 Nigerian irregular migrants in Austria before their repatriation.
The country’s Director-General, International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), Mr. Michael Spindelegger, said in Abuja at a meeting with Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama.
Spindelegger said that ICMPD, with its headquarters in Austria, would start the programme with Nigeria as a pilot scheme before extending to others.
He said that the programme was to prepare the migrants for gainful employment which some Austrian companies were to set up later in Nigeria.
The centre director-general said that the proposed programme would facilitate reversed migration of the irregular migrants, who had no likelihood of being given legal residents in Austria.
“It 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.
“The idea is also to encourage more Austrian companies to come and invest in Nigeria so that they also can contribute to solving the problem of unemployment and irregular migration,” he said.
According to him, there is provision for asylum in Europe, but in a situation where an emigrant fails to secure asylum, the person will be deported at the long run.
“For them, there is no chance of remaining in the country, because once they are picked, they will not be allowed to take anything, but would be brought back to their country empty.
“There are no fewer than 1,000 Nigerians that are not granted refugees 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,” he said.
Spindelegger said, “though, only few Austrian companies are currently in Nigeria, efforts are being made to convince companies involved in the programme to come and invest in Nigeria.
“It is also part of the programme. They can get benefits from the European Union for the investment, which serves as more business security for them,” he said.
In his remarks, Onyeama said that the initiative would not only have Nigerians coming back home to contribute to national development, but also stood to benefit from foreign investors.
“It can be companies in Austria that are interested in investing in any sector of Nigerian economy.
“They will be selecting from Nigerian irregular migrants in Austria, train them and send them down to work with their companies in Nigeria,” he said.
The minister, however, dismissed the fears of likely ploy to deport Nigerians in the country through the process.
“Remember 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.
“So, 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,” he said.
Onyeama said that the present administration had already put in place mechanism to address irregular migration and promote the concept of reverse migration.
He said Nigeria was in full support of the scheme and would ensure its success, adding that government had made huge investment on social intervention programmes and was having such similar scheme partnership with Germany.