In one of our previous articles, we had quoted online media sources on how not less than 5,000 Nigerian youths must have perished in their dangerous voyage to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea and the deserts. But that is not the end of the story. This is because, most of them who were lucky enough to get to their destinations in Europe or get stranded in the Arab Countries (the Middle-East) ended up as hewers of wood, drawers of water or sex slaves in the name of seeking for greener pastures. I have been reading stories that border on human trafficking. But the realities of modern-day slavery with the active collaboration of some phony employment bureaux or so-called jobs agencies, who are deceiving our youths to part with hundred thousands of naira under the guise of getting the unsuspecting candidates mouth-watering jobs abroad. Some of them in the process have become disorientated and have been forced to do menial jobs and other jobs that they did not bargain for before they were lured out of their homeland – Nigeria. And they would have committed much resources in terms of monetary, emotional and psychological resources before they realise that they have allowed themselves to be boxed into a corner with no feasible exit route.
And that was the ordeal of a young Nigerian girl, who has fallen victim of these human traffickers, who have organised themselves into powerful syndicates with possible connections in high places security wise and political wise. The lady in question sent an emotional Save-Our-Souls (SOS) audio message online through Whatsapp. She narrated how she paid N700,000 (Seven hundred thousand naira only) to a job recruitment agency in Nigeria on the promise that a job is waiting for her in Europe. A promise that she later found out not to be true and she couldn’t find her way back to Nigeria because her handlers are in possession of her papers. She also narrated how some of them were being turned into sex slaves and forced to practise prostitution in order to make ends meet. She said it wouldn’t have been worse for her in Nigeria. She, therefore, begged for wider circulation/sharing of her audio until it reaches contacts, who are in positions to do something and come to her aid and those of her colleagues, who have unsuspectingly found themselves in similar situations.
Immediately I acted and shared her audio message to almost all the contacts on my Whatsapp. But what I got as a response from one of my contacts shocked me. As if to authenticate the audio that was earlier given a wide circulation through the social – medium, the respondent sent a video of a black girl that was being raped by a white man. The video was accompanied with a text, which says: “This is how the white men are turning our girls into sex slaves”, I noticed the girl that was being abused was crying and in tears but I couldn’t clarify her nationality because I closed the video within seconds. Besides, the girl’s face looked like that of a minor. It wasn’t the kind of a video that I could keep, talk less of sharing it to my contacts in order to prove a point. Such a video could only be used by security operatives or law enforcement agents for the main purpose of tracking down the culprit for arrest and subsequent prosecution.
About three week’s earlier, an Igbo migrant to Dubai has also captured on video several Nigerian youths, who are already stranded in the Arab country because of a similar promise from fake job agencies to help them (Nigerian Youths) secure good jobs in the United Arabs Emirate, especially in Dubai. The Igbo young man narrated in the video of how some of them were made to part with sums, ranging between N250, 000 – N400,000 to enable them to travel out of Nigeria to seek for the so-called greener pastures in Dubai. It was further revealed in that video clip that all the promises that were made to them before they left Nigeria were also fake/false.
Now, two matters are arise from the S.O.S that the Nigerian youths that are trapped abroad are sending home to the leaders.
First is that the government should verify the employment bureau/agencies that are promising non-existent mouth -watering jobs abroad to Nigerians. The authorities need to find out whether these agencies are really genuine or they are human trafficking syndicates in camouflage. Of course, if they are found to be fake as alleged by our youths, who have fallen victims of them, they should be promptly closed down and get the masterminds behind their operations to face the full weight of the wrath of law.
Secondly, the Federal Government through its appropriate agencies should liaise with our embassies abroad and liberate our youths, who have found themselves in one form of slavery or another, be it as sex slaves or being forced to work under very harsh conditions for peanuts. The Federal Government owes it a duty to liberate Nigerians, who are facing one form of modern-day slavery or another in any part of the world, even if they may be lawful captives.
And the only way to prevent or discourage more of our youths from turning themselves into lawful captives of this modern-day slavery is for the Federal Government to pursue policies to stimulate the growth of the economy and push the nation out of recession as soon as possible. The government is already doing a good job through its various empowerment/welfare programmes that are designed to bring succour or to alleviate the sufferings of the Nigerian masses, who are feeling more of the pains brought by the economic recession. But the authorities should do more by expanding the scope/frontiers of these programmes so that more jobs can be created directly or indirectly in order to reduce the incidence of mass youth unemployment that has been forcing our youth to embark on ill-fated journeys of no return to Europe and other foreign lands with the attendant inhuman treatment being meted out to them.
In this respect, we had earlier advocated that the staggering sums of money being recovered from the suspected treasury looters through the collaborative efforts of the Nigerian public, the security agencies and the judiciary, should be ploughed into the ongoing social/welfare programmes or the social safety nets of the Federal Government. Otherwise, if such recovered loots that have been pronounced by the courts forfeited into the national treasury are not put into immediate use to quickly re-stimulate the growth of the economy, such monies can be re-looted. For details, interested readers can visit our blog site – gbemigaolakunle.blogspot.com and read one of our previous articles, titled: “How to prevent the re-looting of the recovered loot.”
In the meantime and as a matter of outmost urgency, we are admonishing the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, to quickly respond to the S.O.S being sent home by our youths that are languishing in various slaves camps abroad under the guise of looking for the so-called greener pastures that are non-existent. Our commonwealth cake is big enough to share and go round to every Nigerian provided the leaks or the holes in our national treasury are plugged and incidences of corruption and outright stealing from government revenues are properly checked with a view to put a final stop to them. We strongly feel this is another crucial assignment that the acting president should add to his portfolio and already crowded schedule before his principal (President Muhammed Buhari) returns from his medical vacation abroad, by God’s grace.
•Gbemiga Olakunle is General Secretary, National Prayer Movement.