Participants at JIFORM summit in Togo

BEING A TEXT OF SPEECH DELIVERED BY AJIBOLA ABAYOMI, THE PRESIDENT OF THE JOURNALISTS INTERNATIONAL FORUM FOR MIGRATION (JIFORM) AT THE MAIDEN EDITION OF THE WEST AFRICAN MEDIA MIGRATION SUMMIT ORGANIZED BY THE JIFORM AT AGORA SENGHOR, LOME, TOGO ON JUNE 22-23, 2021.

PROTOCOLS

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN

I want to thank the Government and the good people of the Republic of Togo for giving us the opportunity to stage this maiden edition of the West African Media Migration Summit themed: REAPPRAISING MIGRATION REPORTAGE AND IMPACTS ON THE WEST AFRICAN ECONOMY here in the great city of Lomé.    

For me, it is another great privilege to accentuate the mission of our organization since 2018 when the international media trainers assembled top journalists in Nigeria to draw our attention to the need to enlighten the continent on migration dynamics.

Founded in same year, with headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria, today, JIFORM comprises of over 300 journalists covering migration matters across the continents promoting advocacy on save, orderly and regular migration as our cardinal objectives and on other hand helping to expose those behind human trafficking, child and women labour, prostitution, slavery and other crimes against humanity.

As borderless media practitioners, our first international summit on migration was held in Abuja, Nigeria between November 26-27, 2019 while the second edition was hosted on zoom at the first labour media outfit in the world, the Pensioners FM, Ibadan Oyo State, Nigeria between October 15-16, 2020.

JIFORM was part of the global media summit facilitated by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) between November 9-12, 2019 in Tunisia and several international migration events.  

In our quest to expand the frontiers of knowledge and leveraging on migration as one of the vehicles to accelerate the growth of the African economy, JIFORM in partnership with the Nekotech Center of Excellence, Ghana organized the maiden edition of the African Migration Summit between February 25-26, 2021 in Accra Ghana and has over years facilitated several other workshops and trainings for journalists and other stakeholders where over 3000 participants have benefitted.  

Why the African Media Migration Summit? The need to deepen the knowledge of media professionals and stakeholders in the West African region cannot be over emphasized. 

Over 7.6 million international migrants reside in the region according to the United Nations 2020 mid-year report. This is huge human presence influencing the mobility rate and the economic trends, therefore to retain the advantage apart from the growing population in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), there is obvious need for continued creation of opportunities for the youths who are being frustrated to take irregular migration and are being drafted into all forms of slaveries under the disguise of labour migration.

At this juncture, I want to quickly stressed that the purpose of this summit is not to cast aspersion on any government or countries rather we are here to learn some basic principles of migration and jointly proffer solutions to the varied challenges militating against our growth as a people despite the enormous human resources that are abound in our territories. Therefore, all of us are affected and should be concerned about the way forward.

As in other parts of the world, most migrants from Western Africa are seeking employment and better economic opportunities. The reality is that “economic hardship”, “poverty” and “better business prospects” were the dominant reasons why Africans emigrate elsewhere, sadly the Middle East countries have continued to take advantage of these shortcomings to maltreat and subject many of the African youths mostly the women to untoward hardship under the Kafala system of employment over the years. Although, Saudi Arabia abolished the system recently but out of ignorance, many Africans are still being lured into this trap.  

JIFORM is standing up for Africa to reject slavery. Globally, migrants’ matters are human right issues. As part of the steps to deepening the knowledge of journalists to report on migration with human face, today, we are unveiling a publication on migration terminologies and concepts.

Ladies and gentlemen, this region can benefit a lot from migration. It is time to shift the paradigm of labour migration to benefit West Africa because of the huge human and natural resources we have.

Certainly, the competent speakers we have assembled will do justice to the theme of this summit. Time has come for us to appraise the media reportage on migration. In 2019, alone over $46 was remitted through international remittance while in 2020 despite the effect of the covid 19, the Western African countries received 27 billion USD in remittances in 2020.

According to the World Bank report, Nigeria, the largest recipient in the Sub-Saharan Africa in absolute terms, received nearly 64 per cent of this total (17.2 billion), while the Gambia (15.6 per cent) and Cabo Verde (13.9 per cent) received the most remittances as a share of GDP. 

Though estimates for 2020 show that remittances to the sub-region dropped by 19.3 per cent due to COVID-19, remittances to five of the 15 countries for which data are available increased. Remittances received in Nigeria fell by 27.7 percent in 2020 whereas remittances received in Gambia increased by 5 per cent. All these are pointers to the fact that migration contributes to economic stability in many nations.

JIFORM supports procedural mobility through regulated and regular migration abroad to earn foreign currencies. That is the only decent way to bring about prosperous journey as against the perilous ones either through the desert or the Mediterranean Sea.

3,101 migrants died globally in 2020 while trying to reach different international destinations through irregular routes, 1,483 of them were Africans as reported by the Missing Migrant Project of the IOM, the deaths were recorded across six regions of the world between 1 January and 16 December 2020.

The data showed that Africans make up the highest number of dead irregular migrants at 1,483 followed by Americans at 580 with Asia, the Middle East and Europe accounting for the origin of 352, 147 and two dead migrants respectively.

This must stop, therefore as media practitioners, we rise to save humanity through the Verified Initiative Campaign launched by the United Nations. As purveyors of information, the media carry the burden of truth to enlighten the migrants and others by reporting genuine migration information.

We won’t be tired in our quest to seek more knowledge and flood the internet space with the desired information to promote migration governance and economic advancement beyond West Africa.

Distinguished guests here seated and others across the globe, join me in congratulating in advance the awardees we have selected for honour during this summit. I say to you all that you are noble, especially our own Dr Williams Azuma Ijoma, who has now been appointed as a United Nations Ambassador in Togo. We are proud of you.

I am taking this opportunity to invite you to the third edition of the JIFORM Global Migration summit held in Niagara Falls, Canada between November 29, and December 6, 2021. Our doors are opened to media professionals and other migration stakeholders willing to avail themselves opportunities for training and exposure under our platform.

Today, the JIFORM membership form is available for interested journalists and other stakeholders at one thousand Cefas while the annual membership is just $25 dollars.

Finally, on this migration advocacy journey,  I want to specially thank Professor Patrick Lumumba from Kenyan, the great voice and the conscience of continent for his collaboration with the JIFORM as well as Hon Gerry Weiner, the former Citizenship and Immigration Minister, Canada, H E Dr Princess Asie Kabuki Ocansey, a member of the African Union Labour-Migration Advisory Committee from Ghana, the Hon Alpha Timbo, the Minister of Labour and Social  Security of Sierra Leone, Chief Festus Keyamo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and the Honourable Minister of State Labour and Employment, Nigeria,  International Organization for Migration (IOM), Nigeria, Gambia and Ghana, Altec Global Incorporation Canada and its CEO, Susan Gong, Professor Byron Price, the Global Director, Diaspora Innovation Institute, City University, New York City, Canada , Dr Isaac Abiodun Ajijola, the Director of Studies at ESCAE University, Benin Republic and others for their hands of fellowship.

Mention must also be made of Ms Johanna Mack, a Ph.D. candidate and freelance journalist associated to the Department of Communication Studies at the University Duisburg-Essen and the Erich Brost Institute for International Journalism in Dortmund, Germany, Veye Tatah, a German base African migration activist, and Eric Chinne, a U S based migration advocate.

I cannot thank you all enough for the attention.

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