From Okwe Obi, Abuja
Cross River State Governor Ben Ayade has called for a legislation to back labour migration that would shore up national development.
The Director General, Cross River Migration Control Agency, Prince Michael Abuo, represented the governor in Calabar at a Summit on migration.
According to him, the agency is exploring and advancing opportunities for citizens who are at home and in diaspora under a work study programme that will give access to student loans and jobs, and, at the end, come back to inject their expertise in developing various sectors of the state.
‘It is true that there are challenges and concerns of human trafficking, modern day slavery and abuse or human resource drain etc but these challenges and concern can be addressed with adequate legislation, feedback and follow up mechanisms, sanctions and sensitisation and awareness creation,’ he said.
‘It is this passion to raise awareness that led to the governor even before creating this agency to make migration the theme of an episode of our Africa’s Biggest Street Party.
‘Rather than having people explore deadly avenues/means and offer themselves to be trafficked we can and should legislate, facilitate legitimate alternatives which can and should be monitored.
‘It is in this regards that we are setting up modalities to facilitate towards regular labour migration within and outside the state via our skilled migrant programme.
‘With this initiative in partnership with reputable organizations we will create a job centre and facilitate admissions for first degree holders in the area of Science (Social and Pure Science), Technology, Engineering and Mathematics to study for their Master’s in the EU, Canada and United States under a work study programme that will give the access to student loans and jobs.
‘In addition, we will also facilitate our indigenes to gain more skills and link up those with skills to where it is needed globally not just in the gulf nation,’he said.
He further noted: ‘This thought and action as ambitious and daring as it sounds doable and not a single person from our state under this scheme will be keyed into any initiative where they will be exploited and that goes against global best practices or and breaches our constitution.
‘This move and its implication is beyond just Cross River State but this template if implemented and replicated is one that will boost our nation’s foreign reserves in billions of dollars as proven by remissions in tens of billions made by our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora and create millions of jobs as well.’
He explained that the aim behind the creation of the agency ‘is to coordinate, provide and explore opportunities within and outside the state/country to regulate the move of our people in quest of economical survival, address concerns of IDPs, street kids, refugees, work out anti trafficking measures and irregular migrant concerns within the state.
‘So far within a year and few months our agency has made progress in ensuring we create access to opportunities for almost 10,000 persons, yes 10, 000 under different schemes/initiatives, we have documented evidence for this, this would not have been possible without my 34 ad hoc staffs and team members working in my office.
‘These 10,000 and more are geared at providing economic opportunities for our people and this is the hallmark of the Sen Prof Ben Ayade led administration, in addition to the above he has appointed over 5, 000 persons comprising of Cross Riverians and non indigenes and have created agro-processing industrial layouts across the state such as a cocoa, pharmaceutical, rice, groundnut, chicken and noodles factories and of course a garment factory employing over 2, 000 persons. Mostly youths are the beneficiaries of this scheme.’
Minister of State for Labour and Productivity, Festus Keyamo, speaking, observed that: ‘You cannot stop people from wanting to go abroad because there are people who genuinely want to travel.
‘As Nigerians are going abroad for greener pastures, people are also coming here for greener pastures like many documented workers who are Lebanese, Chinese, and others.
‘We must, however, improve on our provision of decent jobs and stop slavery in the name of work in Nigeria, so as to reduce the excessive desperation to go abroad even as an illegal immigrant.’
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Sen Adamu Bulkachuwa, called for control of 21st century migration, and said Nigerians traveling abroad should be good ambassadors of the country in the host country.
‘Any Nigerian leaving this country must be prepared to obey the laws of the land he or she is traveling to, because there is nothing the federal government can do other than appeal if they break the law and are arrested.
‘If the Nigerian mission doesn’t help Nigerians in the Diaspora, it is not because they don’t want to, but because they see that the Nigerian truly broke the laws of the land, all they can do is get a good lawyer to defend the Nigerian or beg,’ he said.