The International Organisation for Migration said on Sunday that social media is a major tool influencing young Nigerians to want to migrate to foreign countries in search of greener pastures.
Speaking in a virtual interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on the impact of insecurity on migration, Franz Celestin, IOM Chief of Mission, said social media has influenced many more migrations than insecurity.
With specific reference to the number of Nigerian returnees from Libya, he said the Southern states, which accounted for the highest number ,were more secured and economically stable, thereby ruling out poverty and insecurity.
According to the IOM boss, aspiration was still the major cause of migration, adding that young Nigerians get easily influenced by “success stories” of others posted on social media.
He said in spite of the poverty and insecurity in the North East in the past couple of years, statistics showed that less people were migrating from the region.
Celestin said: “One of the strongest push for migration is aspiration and not just poverty, conflict or disasters, it is actually aspiration.
“If you ask any young man or woman, do you see yourself here, if the the answer is no, they will dig tunnels, they will climb walls, they will swim and do whatever is necessary to get out.
“Yes the economic part of this is also a push factor. But of all the people returning from outside, and pretty much form Libya, less than 0.2 per cent of them comes from the North East.
“Why is it that over 49 per cent of them are from Edo and 17 per cent of them from Delta then Lagos, Imo and Ogun?
“When you have these five states combined, they account for 89 per cent of those coming from Libya and if you look at these states, they are far ahead of the North East in any human development index.
“So, it is not the conflict because it doesn’t mean those in the North East cannot travel, it is not poverty because of the same thing in the North East, and it is not also lack of education.”
According to Celestin, when the five states that contribute to the number of migrants are considered, it is seen that social media is very prevalent.
He said: “When we look at what is happening in those five states that I mentioned, so that is what we see as a major push factor and it so happens as social media is very prevalent in these areas too.
“So you have to cascade the effect of knowing that somebody who has left can make it then I can make it.
“So you see the Instagram factor.
“When all these guys are posting pictures in London, you say: ‘Oh I know this guy, he went to school with me and now he is abroad,’ and you will want to do the same thing.”
Celestin however cautioned that the pasture may not be as green as it appears, pointing out that one may have to work up to three jobs before they can be able to send money back home.