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Public narratives and attitudes towards refugees and other migrants: Nigeria country profile

Case/country study

Written by Karen Hargrave

Hero image description: Yellow buses congregating at a busy bus stop in Lagos, Nigeria. 2018. Image credit:Yellow buses congregating at a busy bus stop in Lagos, Nigeria. 2018. Image license:Dami Akinbode / Unsplash

This briefing presents an overview of Nigeria’s experience of hosting refugees and other migrants, policy approaches, key features of public narratives surrounding immigration and refugee-hosting and existing evidence on public attitudes:

  • Nigeria hosts a much smaller proportion of refugees and other migrants relative to its population than the global average and the average for West Africa.

  • While Nigeria is a country of net emigration, it has long played host to migrants from across West Africa and the government has been a strong proponent of free movement as part of regional integration processes.

  • Policy frameworks have generally shifted from a focus on controlling immigration to one of easing mobility. Refugees benefit from a permissive policy environment, able to reside in the location of their choice and with access to national health and education systems.

  • Migration is not considered a high-stakes political issue in Nigeria and a narrative of Nigeria as a country of welcome is notable in public discourse. Negative narratives portraying specific groups (particularly irregular migrants) as a threat do exist, though these are far from widespread.

  • Survey data has repeatedly demonstrated high levels of acceptance towards migrants living in the country. The proportion of those with accepting attitudes has risen significantly since 2014. However, there are particular concerns around perceived links between immigration and unemployment and significant differences in attitudes exist between different locations, and between demographic groups.

This briefing is part of a wider project, supported by the IKEA Foundation, that aims to engage public and private investors interested in migration and displacement.

About the series

Through a series of activities, dialogues and innovative communication and outreach initiatives, Public and political narratives on refugees and other migrants: implications for action maps recent research and evidence on public attitudes toward refugees and other migrants.