- General

Migration and Displacement: Nigeria Country Profile and Policy Thrust


Until recently, internal displacement in Nigeria had been mostly caused by overlapping and not mutually exclusive occurrences of inter-communal; ethno-religious cum political; and forced eviction. But the flooding experienced in 2012 has changed the IDPs profile in the country and has created a new trend in relation to the volume of displacement and the need for a very robust and concerted humanitarian response strategy.

At the peak of the flood, precisely in October, 2012, the total number of people affected in 28 States of the Federation was estimated at 7.412 million (NCFRMI, Oct. 2012). Just barely a week after, the estimated number of persons affected rose to about 7.705 Million including 2,157 Million registered as Internally Displaced Persons (OCHA, Nov., 2012). Meanwhile, in the same year of 2012, the total number of conflict induced displacement in 17 States of the Federation was estimated at 442,329. This astronomical increase in the volume, causes, as well as the geography of internal displacement in Nigeria, has raised the need to concentrate on preemptive measures to reduce the incidence to the barest minimum and manageable size.

On the part of the Commission, there has been concerted efforts made in collaboration with other humanitarian actors to respond to some of the protection needs raised and provide assistance to mitigate the hardship by the displaced. The Commission designed short, medium and long term strategies and the in the short term, relief material were provided to identified affected communities. Currently, the Commission has commenced the 2nd phase of its intervention which is providing durable solution on medium and long term measures.

Meanwhile, in anticipation of the above and conscious of its obligation in line with its 2009 expanded mandate on the provision of protection and assistance to the internally displaced persons and the coordination of migration related issues in Nigeria, the Commission spearheaded activities in the drafting of the National Policy on Internally Displaced Persons.

The policy document was largely derived from the UN Guiding Principle and the Kampala Convention on the Protection and Assistance of IDPs. Members of the Technical Working Group (TWG) for the drafting of the policy were drawn from various State and Non-state actors; the IDPs; International Technical Experts; UN Agencies; as well as contributions from the European Union Delegation to Nigeria, Action-Aid, Nigeria, the IDMC-Norwegian Refugee Commission, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of the Swiss Government etc.

The policy document was validated by stakeholders in June, 2012 and the final draft copy has since been forwarded by the Commission to the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation for onward transmission to the Federal Executive Council for its approval. At the moment, the draft policy on IDPs is still waiting the approval of the FEC and until this is done there would still remain the challenge of having a national response strategy that provides for proper coordination mechanizing and coherences in data and information management. It is believed that priority attention must be given to the IDPs Policy document for its approval to provide the legal frame work and the institutional mandate for proper coordination.


Following the directive of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for the review of the draft migration policy, the NCFR (in line with its 2009 expanded mandate) has spearheaded activities by engaging all the relevant stakeholders to elaborate a policy that captures current realities and migration dynamics both nationally and internationally. In 2010, the draft Policy was presented to the Federal Executive Council but due to the lapse in time (between 2007 when it was first prepared and in 2010 when it was presented at FEC meeting) the FEC returned the draft and directed that it should be reviewed to reflect the current trends and emerging issues in migration.

The NCFRMI has spearheaded several activities and technical sessions in engaging all relevant stakeholders to ensure very robust consultations as well as deepened participatory process that guarantees the ownership of the policy by all concerned. The Commission is currently managing the process of reviewing the draft migration Policy to accommodate new and emerging trends as well as incorporate international best practices in responding to the need to take advantage of the benefits of migration for national development beyond the 2015 MDGs.

Given the enormous resources and technical expertise required to develop a responsive policy document and an effective action plan that would serve as a catalyst for mainstreaming migration into national development post 2015 MDGs, the Commission has been provided with some supporting structures by the EU under the 10th EDF platform (implemented by the IOM) and ACP Migration. Both the 10th EDF and the Intra-ACP Migration facility have provided some measures of funding and technical assistance in the on-going review process. At the moment, the IOM is in the process of contracting a consultant that would do a desk review of the draft policy document. The desk review is expected to be completed in the next four weeks and returned to the TWG to begin the validation process.

Currently also, the Commission is in the process of finalizing an advocacy strategy that would trigger media debates around migration and development related issues as well as sensitize the policy makers of the need for a responsive and creative policy document that can link migration to national development as well as transform migration governance through an effective and sustainable coordination system beyond the 2015 MDGs.

Prospects and Challenges

One of the greatest challenges the Commission must overcome to bring its aspirations to reality is to have a very strong media advocacy strategy to stimulate debates and also influence policy makers in considering the migration and IDPs policies as priority documents that need to be given life in looking beyond the 2015 MDGs. Effort must be made to galvanize the political support needed to ensure that both the draft IDPs and the National Migration policies are given prompt approval. Based on the above, the Commission is seeking innovative ways to raise the resource needed to achieve these objectives.


Deng F. “Dealing with the Displaced: A Challenge to the International Community”, Global Governance, vol 1, no 1, 1995

Hampton, J. (ed) Internally Displaced People: A Global Survey, Norwegian Refugee Council and Earthscan Publications, London, 1998

NCFRMI, Quarterly Report ” The profile of Internal Displacement induced by the 2012 Flooding in Nigeria”

OCHA – Nigeria, Monthly Newsletter “An assessment of the 2012 Flooding in Nigeria”