The Senior Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Diaspora and Foreign Affairs, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, has declared that slave trade and illegal migration common among Nigerians youths in countries like Libya, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Morocco, India, Russia, Indonesia and Europe.
She said the development deserved urgent attention, which must be curbed without delay.
Dabiri-Erewa made this declaration while delivering a paper entitled “Building capacities of Nigerian Youths against slave trade or illegal migration”, as part of activities to commemorate the 70th anniversary of University of Ibadan, organised by Faculty of Education, at an event held at Trenchard Hall, UI on Monday.
The Presidential aide said that the dangers and risks involved in illegal migration to these countries were more than the problems many illegal migrants are running for while in Nigeria, as she advised Nigerians to steer clear of illegal traveling agents.
Dabiri-Erewa explained that “slave trade and illegal migration are national tragedies, which deserve urgent attention by all relevant stakeholders including the traditional rulers, government agencies, parents and guardians”.
She remarked that countries like Libya, Malaysia, Omar, Saudi Arabia, Morocco China, India, Russia, among others have zero tolerance for illegal migration, hence, anyone going there should do so through immigration and with necessary documents required by the laws of those countries.
Dabiri-Erewa said, “What we saw in Libya is pathetic and worrisome. Some Nigerians are still stranded in Libya because government can only reach where there is no war. We brought 12 Nigerians that Gaddafi wanted to execute. We have been warning Nigerians not to go to Libya. We kept saying stop doing this thing. They want to go to Europe and they ended up in Libya. President Muhammadu Buhari constituted a committee sent them to Libya that is the worst thing I have ever seen in my life. If you go to see them, there is no human being that will not cry.
“We brought about 10, 000, though we were told they were 6,000. And they were begging that we should just bring them back home. They said just let us get out being here. One girl said she was 14 years old and about 40 people have slept with her. They used men as slaves they used them on the farms. There are still underground cells we can’t reach then. So, up till now we still have many Nigerians in Libya cells.
“Undoubtedly, there is nothing wrong in people moving from one point to another. It is their legitimate rights to do so, but these rights come with some proviso and conditionality that if not adhere to will turn awry. In Nigeria, the pressure to seek greener pastures intensified affecting the poorest mostly in the society. The migration of hope by these young Nigerians most often turned into a journey of unknown future of despair.
“It is not purely Nigerian problem but that of the continent as thousands of Africans especially Nigerians stake their lives as they venture on a boat journey in search of what they think will be a better and easier living standard. A journey that begins with hope but end with despair. It is painful that Nigeria ranks highest in the statistics of irregular Migration. Communities had lost able bodied youths, valuable assets and properties to Irregular Migration. The regular fixture and menace of irregular migration by youths, Nigerians especially, has called for actions by actors from different sectors including the United Nations with imminent mayhem set to lose at the slack of quick attention.
“My office is inundated with petitions and letters on daily basis crying for “Save our Souls” messages from stranded migrants and at times, from their families back home. This year alone, over 10,000 Nigerian youths were repatriated back home courtesy of the collaboration between the Federal Government of Nigeria and International Organization of Migration (IOM) from Libya and some other countries of the world due to inhuman activities they were baptised into like slave trade, sexual harassments amongst others en route Italy and other European countries in search of greener pastures.
“Between the month of June and July 2018, two full flights from Nigeria consisting 616 and 114 Nigerian girls of ages 16 to 30 years went to Saudi Arabia under the guise of performing lesser hajj called Umrah with each of them paying not less than N600, 000 for that journey to the agents, absconded and disappeared from King Abdul Azeez International airport Jeddah till today. They have all been sold into slavery of being house girls working for 18 to 19 hours daily and earning peanuts. This is just one of the sad stories we hear everyday in my office while some others trapped there are calling on us to come and rescue them.”
Dabiri-Erewa, while speaking further, however, said one of the solutions to the problems of illegal migration is for all stakeholders including the government agencies, traditional rulers and parents to be involved in the activities of the present government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari to tame illicit migration.
She said, “If you know what they are passing through, you will prefer to stay under the bridges and sell pure water in Lagos. Unemployment is another issue. In every case like this, you have an uncle, you have a mother. So what we are doing is that we are creating awareness, it is a national tragedy. So, traditional rulers, government agencies and other stakeholders must be involved.
“Traffickers have to be nabbed. This is the work of NAPTIP, we need to shame them. If you want to travel, migrate in a right way through the immigration. Please, let us reiterate that, look before you leap. Look at your situation before you leave Nigeria. President Muhammad Buhari is working hard to ensure that life is more meaningful for Nigerians.
“The campaign works must be with the Nigerian media to sensitize society to the problem of irregular migration and the enormous costs that families and the nation pay. The Media as we know plays an important role in generating awareness, as it performs its role through dissemination of information. The media also acts as a force multiplier, as the message reaches a larger audience, beyond the immediate target audience.”