When you kick your calabash carelessly in the presence of neighbors, in your absence they will break it without a blink…
“The identity of the Nigerian lady who was killed in Italy over sexual performance, has been revealed. The deceased, identified as Blessing Benedicta Daniels but popularly known as Anita, a Nigerian sex worker in Italy, was murdered by Leopoldo Scalici, 40, for failing to satisfy him. Italian police have detained Scalici, after he voluntarily confessed to the crime.
I am sure that a story like this has gone with the wind. Over the years, Nigerians have been trafficked to foreign countries with the promise of better opportunities. Over 90% of the victims are women who are often subjected to sexual abuse or forced into prostitution.
The unceasing cases of human trafficking are fueled by the low economic standard of living in Nigeria and the perceived lack of opportunities when compared to other developed countries. Aside from regular channels of trafficking Nigerians, there has been a surge in the number of Nigerians who voyage through the Mediterranean sea and the Sahara desert in a life threatening attempt to enter Europe.
Edo state for instance, has been adjudged as one of Africa’s largest departure points for Africans fleeing economic hardship for better opportunities abroad.
The majority of Nigerians fleeing the country or being trafficked are women, unemployed graduates, traders and artisans who are fed up with the meager returns of their efforts due to the economic conditions of the countries. Equally, the younger group are those whose parents or guardians cannot train and are lured by promises of a brighter future abroad or some sort of financial reward.
While many may think it is too early in the morning but the fact is that we have a serious migration problem on our hands.
I will in this essay drive home some things I consider home truths and sad as they may be, are issues that to a large extent will determine the success or otherwise of our corporate existence.
Nigerians are leaving Nigeria, for education, for the better life, for sports, for healthcare, for every reason available…Nigerians are seeking education in places such as the Ukraine, Bahrain, Cyprus; Nigerian footballers now go as far as Brazil, I mean the mighty ‘football-ing’ Brazil, not to talk of Iran, Kuwait and Madagascar. The labour market in places as remote as Auckland, Sydney, New Zealand are full of Nigerian academics.
What hope do we have, many Nigerians in Diaspora, every year count and say this is the last year for me but as December comes, it is obvious that one year more is on the horizon, the situation at home being nothing to write about. The so-called conducive environment is illusionary. Nigerians in diaspora go through a lot just to eek out a living and yet have to cater for their family at home. Through winter, summer, the struggle continues both legit and the shady ones.
Back home, families sell landed properties, mortgage valuables and values to make sure that siblings and offspring get that paper that gets them out of the nation, on any excuse available. The number of churches and special prophets that line up the popular Embassy Street in Lagos is testimony to the fact that all is not well.
Nigerians, despite their status, line up in their thousands all just for an opportunity to get out of the mess we got ourselves into. Our citizens go to Libya, Saudi Arabia, and even Iran to be Pastors in desperation. The question is ‘If we all leave, who will repair the mess?’
Why is it that most of the people that were regarded failures here get outside the nation and excel and do much better? More often than not, the Tokunboh phenomenon as I term it exposes our deficiencies, when out there you are either good at what you know or you are not, you either fit in, or you do the cabs; even the cabs is not for misfits. Many times we have seen cases where bank managers can barely hold down a job as front desk persons outside the nation and in other cases we have seen school rejects, with fourth and fifth class go abroad and break records because someone gave them the chance that Mother Nigeria refused them.
Each time I am opportune to reflect on matters of the brain, stomach and all kinds of drains in the nation I shake my head, because it is one of the many ills of our society. The question we cannot reach agreement on is ‘how did we get to this level of decadence in the system?’
Where did the self belief go? On my last visit to the Bauchi Yankari Park I went through the statistics of inflow of foreign tourists and it was a sad decline with each passing year as the figures dropped. Many Nigerians would rather holiday in Dubai than Obudu Cattle Ranch. Nigerians are the bane of Nigeria; we have a long time lost belief in ourselves. Why do we have to leave our country for other people’s nations; because the system there works, they have energy, their railroads are fantastic, despite the racism, and cultural problems we still prefer them, and in preferring them we for once forget that these people built their systems and they paid the price and in cases are using us to build them systems.
But alas we care less, we are masters of the act of double speak, one moment we seem to be getting it right, the next it is back to square one. The best we achieve is often on paper, our ideas remain what they are; ideas that never leave the head, they are never put into practice. We have Nigerians that are more British than Theresa May and without as much as a blink of the eye talk about Nigeria in the third person a narrative…”Used to know a lot about Nigeria but not anymore, don’t know much of what’s happening there now,” and to imagine, that’s a Nigerian that left the nation in 2003, one can only nod…
We should look back at how basic education can be made compulsory and free for young people since most parents and wards cannot sufficiently see their wards through school. Entrepreneurial skills should be cultivated and incentivized at all levels of learning to make people self sufficient and self-reliant.
Security personnel should be reformed and made more accountable. Often times, they turn a blind eye to the activities of human traffickers because there is a material reward for them. What this means is that border security should be intensified, security checks at the airports should be done rigorously to checkmate human trafficking. Equally, offenders should be prosecuted.
If the country recovers from this economic hardship through pragmatic policies, and the people are empowered with education and entrepreneurial skills, the cases of irregular migration and human trafficking will drastically reduce. Did I add the need for critical partnerships across the board, the media, bodies like NAPTIP, IOM and government at all levels possess a stake that can be of immense value in curbing the ills of irregular migration.
Before we all waka go abroad, we need to answer pertinent questions, why are we going, what really is there, and whom do I leave here for? If there are no real pragmatic answers to these questions, the wahala currently involved in migration will be ‘childsplay’ in the foreseeable future; how our calabash will be treated—Only time will tell.
Currently Prince Charles, is based out of Jos, Plateau State, and conducts field research and investigations in the Middle Belt Region of Nigeria with an extensive reach out to the entire North and other parts. Prince Charles worked on projects for UN Women, Search for Common Ground, and International Crisis Group, among others. He is an alumnus of the University of Jos and the prestigious Humanitarian Academy at Harvard and Knight Center For Journalism, University of Texas at Austin. A doctoral candidate of Georgetown University
Born in Lagos State (South West Nigeria), Prince Charles is proud of his Nigerian roots. He is a Henry Luce Fellow, Ford Foundation grantee and is proficient in English, French, Yoruba Ibo and Hausa. Married with two boys, and a few dogs and birds.