A Reappraisal of the Expulsion of Illegal Immigrants from Nigeria in 1983

  • Daouda Gary-Tounkara CNRS / LAM


In recent years, Nigeria has been quietly expelling more and more immigrants from Niger, Mali, Chad and Cameroon. These foreigners – migrant workers or small traders – face the reinforcement of migration control and the blind fight of the government against Boko Haram. Despite its political instability, Nigeria remains a major immigration destination in West Africa. In this article, I analyze the “undocumented” expulsion of aliens in 1983, officially three million people. I argue that the expulsion was due to the economic crisis but also to a nationalist revenge against Ghana and a political calculation of President Shagari. This implies the exclusion of foreigners from the national labour market and the weakening of the supposed electoral base of his opponents.

Author Biography

Daouda Gary-Tounkara, CNRS / LAM
cnrs senior research fellow
Focus: Xenophobic Violence and the Manufacture of Difference in Africa