By Dan Owegie
IF anyone wants to travel to any country, the person is free as guaranteed by the UN Charter on freedom of movement domesticated in most free societies. This explains why when people chose to migrate from one part of the world to the other, they are free to do so, in as much as their movement does not infringe on the rights of others or undermine the security, law and order of the countries they migrate to. Individuals or groups are free to do so if they do not also jeopardise their own lives.
Migration did not start today. In the holy Bible, God told Abraham: “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew the: “And I will make of the a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shall be a blessing..” And Abraham, like many other migrants hearkened to the voice of God and took his family and Lot his newphew went with him and they departed. Till date, Christians see themselves as descendants of Abraham.
That is how it is with migrants who hear from God. There should be a cogent reason to move from your father’s land to another man’s land. If it is not ordained by God, you are very likely to have problem. There are countless Nigerians who have left the shores of the country to Europe, America, Australia and Asia. Even other African nations and they are doing excellently well. Many have written their names in gold. Many others have broken records in medicine, engineering, science, business, academics and even theology.
In the same vein, Satan move people from a land flowing with milk and honey to a land where they suffer untold hardship. Some Nigerians have brought opprobrium, not only to themselves and their families, also to the nation. Some have been executed in China, Indonesia, Malaysia and other countries for trafficking in drugs and other vices punishable either by life imprisonment or death. There are those who are kingpins of prostitution and human trafficking. They have made money, so much money but what kind of money? Blood money?
There are some homes where fathers have sold their assets to send their wives overseas for prostitution. There are homes where teens, young girls between 13-20 years old have been given to some unsuspecting human traffickers who come to seek their hands from their parents, promising to provide them with jobs in Italy, Spain, Austria and other European countries with the assurance, that, they would in turn come back with huge foreign currencies to improve the lives and livelihoods of their families only to end up in slavery and prostitution in these countries. Sadly, many ended up in Libya- the land of modern day slavery where human beings, Nigerians are reportedly sold for as low as 100-400 USD.
So, what counts is the motive for migration. Why do you want to migrate? What suffering have you seen in Nigeria that even leaders of today have not seen? We had a President, Goodluck Jonathan who told Nigerians without any iota of shame how he went to school without shoes. That is, he went to school daily on his bare feet as did so many other Nigerians of his generation. We had a Speaker of the House of Representative, Aminu Masari, now the Governor of Katsina State who told Nigerians how he came from his village on bare feet to the city to eke a living and find his feet in life. So, if people, Nigerians who have lived in terrible conditions can still become President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, then those who want to go to the streets of Europe and Americas and Asia through the desert and Mediterranean sea can as well make it. Yes, they can!
Many of us know the story of some business mogul today. The Late Aare Onakankanfo of Yoruba land and Pillar of Sports in Africa, Moshood Kashimawo Abiola who sold wood to become who he was. Even the Igbinedions, Dangotes of today started from very humble beginnings. The question is why the greed among the youths of today and their parents ? Why the get-rich quick madness? There is the story of those who now go to Ghana and some other African countries to prepare medicine for money. These fetish charms are prepared for them to come home and to eat fresh excreta! And then they suddenly become rich overnight, driving flashy cars and live in fabulous mansions. These are gifts from the devil, certainly not ordained by God. And when the devil gives one, he takes ten.
Migration is sweet when you travel respectfully with clear purpose and means. I love Governor Godwin Obaseki. He travelled many years ago to the United States of America shortly after he graduated from the prestigious University of Ibadan. He went there to further his education and acquire knowledge on how to manage businesses and human resources. With wealth of such positive experience from other climes, he came back to Edo to seek leadership of his state to enable him emancipate his people from the shackles of poverty, oppression, diseases, squalor and underdevelopment. Since he assumed office a year ago, he has made significant progress in all spheres of endeavour. He is busy building dilapidated infrastructures, providing potable water, roads, electricity and above all opening the state for direct foreign investment and industrialisation, a positive move that will hopefully halt the craze of migration of Edo people through the desert and Mediterranean sea.
Little wonder therefore, when he got wind of the investigation by US television network, CNN, of desperate migrants from sub-Saharan Africa been auctioned in Libya, he immediately led a team of top government officials of his administration to Italy to find out the root causes and sought synergy with the Italian government on how to permanently stop the ugly trend that has brought opprobrium to the state. Even the Oba of Benin, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare 11 has also been making frantic efforts to end the illicit human trade.
Migrants, mainly of Edo origin are been exploited by smugglers when they make a required stop in the North Africa nation, as they are kept in camps for members of their families to pay a required amount of money before they are put on boats bound for Europe.
The Governor earlier in the year had constituted an anti-human trafficking committee headed by the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Professor Yinka Omorogbe. It was a proactive move to end the ugly trade before the CNN expose.
He pointedly charged the committee to take drastically reduce human trafficking in the state. Both the Governor and the Committee have been working round the clock to end this ugly trade and bring all victims back to the state for rehabilitation and thousands of them are getting the Edo State Government’s attention.
Nigerians are pleased with the order given by President Muhammadu Buhari to return all Nigerians living trapped in Libya, a war torn country. What should interest anybody about that country today? Certainly nothing.
Government should not stop at repatriating Nigerians in Libya. It should also make a robust arrangement to rehabilitate and empower all of them for them to know that government cares. That they come from a country that can change their story from the negative experience they have all had to a positive one.
Development partners and Civil Society Organisations which have been at the fore of the campaign against human trafficking NAPTIP must not rest on their oars. This is the time to redouble their efforts to support NAPTIP and Edo State Government to end the trade once and for all. When Libya slave trade does not have patronage, the market will naturally close shops. When Libya and Libyans atone for their iniquities and end hostilities against their fellow human beings then God in his infinite mercies would heal their land and give them peace. Then and only then, will I want to go to Libya. I hope the government of that country would now make those gory sites tourism relics. I will want to go to Libya to see the torture centres and the 21st Century Slave trade markets as vestiges of history.
- Mr. Dan Owegie is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, Edo State.