President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, has expressed the willingness of the National Assembly to support efforts being made by the federal government and the European Union (EU) to mitigate the rising incidence of illegal migration into European countries.
Saraki who stated this when the new EU Ambassador to Nigeria, Ketil Karlsen, visited him in Abuja, also stressed the need for quick resolution of all pending agreements between Nigeria and EU on migration issues.
In a statement by the Head, International Relations to the President of the Senate, Bamikole Omishore, in Abuja, Saraki also called on the envoy to help facilitate capacity building for illegal migrants from Nigeria in Europe to encourage them to return home with skills to sustain a livelihood.
He also called on the EU to ensure that Nigerians legally staying in Europe are not only protected but have their stay properly regularized.
He commended the EU for the role it played in ensuring the success of the 2015 general elections and urged them to sustain the gesture in future elections.
Responding to remarks by the envoy, Saraki said, “I know there are a number of issues that are of great concern to you and to us, particularly in the area of migration.
“I know there are pending agreements between Nigeria and the EU that we need to be prompt about and come to quick resolution so as to be able to put those agreements in place.
“This I believe will help us address the issue of illegal immigrants into the EU and also to see what kind of responses we can build, like capacity, to make it more attractive for these Nigerians to come back and be able to sustain a livelihood.
“I think this is something we need to start pushing forward in our discussions and see how we can begin to implement something that will work.
“I also think that during your tenure in the country, this is a very important area where we need to see work done. We need to see how we can provide some vocational training for individuals that are willing to come back.
“I think at the same time, we must also encourage Nigerians that are in Europe legally and are doing legitimate businesses to see that they get a fair share of the possibility of ensuring that they are properly regularized in the EU,” Saraki stated.
Earlier, Ambassador Karlsen described Nigeria and the EU as natural political partners and pledged to work to further cement the existing cordial relations between the EU and the country.
Karlsen said: “So whatever I can do to promote that understanding you can count on me. As I enter my tenure and be responsible for a very significant development cooperation portfolio I would wish nevertheless to emphasize the political relationship.
“I think we are natural political partners. Of course, in dialogue around Nigeria but also on the regional and international stage.
“We look to Nigeria as a likeminded partner in international relations. Hopefully we will have very close relations. You can count on me to be your ambassador also in the promotion of Nigeria’s interest in Europe and my availability for working together on different agenda and platforms.”