TEXT OF SPEECH DELIVERED BY DR AJIBOLA ABAYOMI, THE PRESIDENT OF THE JOURNALISTS INTERNATIONAL FORUM FOR MIGRATION (JIFORM) AT THE 3RD JIFORM GLOBAL MIGRATION SUMMIT IN TORONTO ON OCTOBER 12, 2022.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen.
First, I want to thank the management and staff of the Abedorc Productions Inc, Toronto, the host of this summit and it’s Chief Executive Officer, Prince Yinka Farinde for being the pillar behind the JIFORM. I lack words to express our profound gratitude for the great support. Prince Farinde, we are proud of your successes in Canada and in other countries as a Nigerian-Canadian for being a role model of what a successful African Diaspora entrepreneur should be. Please accept this compliment as a mark of honour. I also thank my friends, Prince Segun Akanni, Zachues Somorin, Siryuyumunsi Thaddee and others in Canada for their important roles in making this event a reality.
Ladies and gentlemen, a time has come in our history that a hybrid participation especially through a virtual means on zoom has made everyone a global citizen to break the barriers of artificial border against migrtion.
Today, is another golden opportunity to access human mobility and its impacts on the global economy at the 3rd JIFORM Global Migration Summit in the great city of Toronto in Canada, arguably, the most migration friendly country in the world.
This summit is an attempt to further raise the global consciousness from the perspective of the media on the various important migration issues. Migration is only profitable when it is done through a regular channel and will ultimately improve the global economy as evident in the international remittances being documented by the World Bank and the United Nations at intervals.
In the midst of this, steering at us are challenges of human trafficking, a criminal act rated at $150 billion net worth by both the United Nations and the International Labour Organization. Not only this, there are sex trafficking, women and child labour, forced labour, forced migration, irregular migration, smuggling of migrants and various inhuman treatments and abuses being meted to millions of migrants across the world.
For every soul of our brothers and sisters that are involved, future potential leaders are being destroyed. That is why the media must take the lead in propagating factual reportage in line with the United Nations verifiable concept and evidence based journalisms on migration matters.
All of us must be concerned about strengthening migration policies and laws to allow for unconditional movement of persons with respect to the territorial and border entry rules in each country benched with human face.
These factors and situations determining the type of migration in one way or the other in several regions of the world have survival as the main purpose of migration in most cases. Journalists and media establishment have major roles to play to continue shaping the migration paradigm and concepts in the positive light.
The theme for this year summit titled: Exploring The Benefits Of Migration Post Pandemic Era To Retool The Global Economy could not have come at a better time when most countries are strategizing to mitigate the effect of the pandemic that took the world by storm in 2019 through the early part of this year.
Central to the recovery of the global economy without pretence in this order is labour migration with the great contributions of migrants that should be echoed and celebrated as the heroes and heroines of the difficult moment. To do justice to the subject matter of this conference, reputable speakers have been assembled to update our knowledge and improve the capacity of the media practitioners and other participants.
The essence of the JIFORM annual global migration conference must not be lost in transit. Permit me to place on record that our goal as an organization is to resolve all migration related matters through responsible journalism and relationships.
The JIFORM summit therefore is a medium to contribute to the development of policies and frame works towards ensuring a better society for all devoid of discrimination, racisms and injustice in the area of human mobility.
In this crusade, the JIFORM, a media foundation comprising over 300 journalists covering migration matters across the continents with headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria, since its inauguration in 2019, has become a force on migration matters staging an annual global migration summit apart from other activities both within and outside Africa.
The first JIFORM summit was held in Abuja in 2019 between November 26-27 while the second edition was hosted on zoom as a result of the pandemic at the first labour radio station, Pensioners Fm, Ibadan on October 15 to 16, 2020 i Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria. We are indeed happy that to surmount all challenges to be in Canada for this third edition.
For the record, the JIFORM was part of the International Organization For Migration (IOM) International’s global training for journalists in 2019 in Tunisia where a charter was developed by journalists for migration coverage. We have held a series of workshops and training for journalists and other stakeholders and we have been engaging with the IOM Nigeria, Gambia, Ghana and others.
Between February 25-26, 2021, we organized the maiden African Migration Summit (AMS) in Accra, Ghana in partnership with the Nekotech Center for Labour Diplomacy and pioneered the West African Media Migration Summit in Togo between June 22-23, 2021; for the record over 3000 journalists and other stakeholders across the continents have benefited from several workshops put in place by the JIFORM to promote advocacy on safe, orderly, and regular migration over the years.
In 2021, we published a book on migration terminologies and concepts titled: Guide To Migration Reportage which was also subtitled in French as part of our contributions to increase knowledge on migration matters. We are also actively involved in the decent work revolution being led by Dr Princess Asie Kabuki Ocansey, a member of African Union Labour Migration Advisory Committee through the Slice of Success (SOS) as evident in Sierra Leone, Malawi and other countries over the years.
Ladies and gentlemen we shall not weaver nor tired on the effort to seek knowledge on migration, from November 2-4, this year, I am inviting you all to another global forum that cuts across the continents as the Medger Evers College, City University, New York hosts the maiden edition of the JIFORM Intercontinental Migration summit at its center in Brooklyn.
At this junction, I want to appreciate the ESCAE University, Porto Novo, Benin Republic, and other institutions partnering the JIFORM on the training of journalists.
I pay tribute to Honorable Gerry Weiner, the former Secretary to the Government of Canada and also an erstwhile Minister of Citizenship and Immigration for all his encouragements and supports for the JIFORM over the years which made the dream of this summit in Canada a reality.
I salute Canada, a great nation and her heart-warming people for the hospitality and the friendly migration policies over the years from which citizens of several countries are profiting from. The feedback from the JIFORM members since our arrival is wonderful and we shall never take this for granted. I look forward to personally visit Honourable Gerry in Canada as a mark of appreciation a few days from now. We owe you a debt of gratitude.
Personally, I cherish the opportunity to work and exchange ideas with the President of 1st Fridays Toronto, Mr Warren Salmot Walmot. In the few months I have known him through my great friend, the distinguished Professor Byron Price from the Medger Evers College, City University in the United States of America, I have seen in him a man of vision
All of us, both the black and the white are now living with the reality of the famous quote of Martin Lutter King since August 1963:
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
The global economic development has transcended colour or race rather it is a show of intellect and initiatives. Therefore we all have a duty irrespective of our field or profession to contribute our own quota to make the world a better place.
Our theme at this year conference: Exploring The Benefits Of Migration To Retool The Global Economy is a statement of reality because human mobility is the fulcrum of any economy as no nation can exist alone without relating with others. Migration is therefore a serious business from which many developed countries especially Canada, US, Britain and other developing nations have benefitted from.
To buttress the positive sides of migration, in 2019, alone a total of USD 714 billion in international remittances were transferred globally by migrants and Diaspora back to origin countries as reported by the World Bank.
The current global estimate is that there were around 281 million international migrants in the world in 2020, which equates to 3.6 per cent of the global population. Overall, the estimated number of international migrants has increased over the past five decades. These people are economy developers such that if well managed remain a veritable asset any day.
To further underscore the import role of migration in the economy, officially recorded remittance flows to low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are expected to increased by 4.2 percent in 2021 to reach $630 billion. This follows an almost record recovery of 8.6 percent in the same year, according to the World Bank’s latest Migration and Development Brief.
In 2021, remittance inflows saw strong gains in Latin America and the Caribbean (25.3 percent), Sub-Saharan Africa (14.1 percent), Europe and Central Asia (7.8 percent), the Middle East and North Africa (7.6 percent), and South Asia (6.9 percent). Remittances to East Asia and the Pacific fell by 3.3 percent; although excluding China, remittances grew 2.5 percent. Excluding China, it is an indisputable fact that remittance flows have been the largest source of external finance for LMICs since 2015.
The top five recipient countries for remittances in 2021 were India, Mexico (replacing China), China, the Philippines, and Egypt. Among economies where remittance inflows stand at very high shares of GDP are Lebanon (54 percent), Tonga (44 percent), Tajikistan (34 percent), Kyrgyz Republic (33 percent), and Samoa (32 percent).
Beyond migration and its relevant data, for prosperity to continue across the globe, nations must imbibe the culture of tolerance, empathy and open door policies to welcome migrants for development to be sustained. All barriers furthering racism, discrimination and separatist tendencies must be discouraged. All of us are one people, one creation with potentials to add value to global development.
Given the foregoing, I want to specifically call on world leaders to end the undue occupational war in Ukraine leading to millions of people now classified as victims of forced migration. In the midst of these, the pronounced discrimination against the blacks to access same opportunity for survival like their fellow white counterparts is not acceptable as a just standard.
The UN must be firm and rise to the defense of the millions of Africans and citizens of the third world nations constantly being harassed in Europe, North and South Americans and elsewhere under the guise of labeling them as irregular migrants. The massacre of the defenseless migrants at the border of Morocco and Spain this year as well as the continuous inhuman treatment of migrants around the Mediterranean Sea call for serious investigation and concerns.
Africa government especially must be more sincere in creating more opportunities for her citizens being lured into slavery. Time has come to consider and engineer whether a bilateral and multilateral platforms discussions with the Middle East to end deadly work and enslavement of Africans at the UAE’s corridor. If the African leaders can swallow their pride a great benefit awaits the continent if decent work is thoroughly negotiated with other continents recruiting Africans as cheap labour.
Migrants are economic developers and every nation has a duty to protect the right to dignity of labour. All of us must be concerned to end various injustice and discrimination against them. In 2019, the number of international migrants worldwide – people residing in a country other than their country of birth – reached almost 272 million (from 258 million in 2017). Female migrants constituted 48 per cent of international migrants. There were an estimated 38 million migrant children, three out of four international migrants were of working age, meaning between 20 and 64 years old. 164 million were migrant workers. Approximately 31% of the international migrants worldwide resided in Asia, 30% in Europe, 26% in the Americas, 10% in Africa and 3% in Oceania.
JIFORM is committed to join forces with every willing organization or government to give quality information in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 10.7: to facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies to forestall human trafficking and slavery. Our doors are opened for collaborations.
In our desire to continue to serve as a rally point for migration stakeholders’ discuss, members of the JIFORM have elected to continue to have an annual migration conference in Canada. On this, I want to invite more corporate bodies and interested partners to work with us on this project aimed at enhancing capacity building for journalists and others.
We are ready to network with other organizations to spread the campaign on regular migration and economic development. Indeed Canada has shown us love and we are ready to make this nation our permanent base to contribute to her growth in all ramifications.