The price of opportunity
By Denrele Animasaun
“If the gods listened to the prayers of men, all humankind would quickly perish since they constantly pray for many evils to befall one another”-Epicurus
We tend to go round the houses seeking solutions for problems that are self-inflicted. You know, finding problems where there wasn’t one. Like being paranoid and convinced that a member of your household is responsible for your lack of progress at work, when in fact, you are not qualified or willing to make progress. Politicians are good at that: finding problem at every junction and the gullible fall for it every single time-hook, line and sinker. They pit one religion against the other, tribe against tribe and one political party against the other and so on.
In the meantime, they rob the nation blind. People are distracted with the supposedly immediate problems. Creating division and diversion helps the manipulator to continue serving its own self-interest to the detriment of the majority. They start the proverbial fires and move to safe area to watch it burn and wilfully allow innocent and gullible fight amongst themselves. We have always coexisted and no matter the issues, it was always settled amicably. We traded with each other, goods exchanged hands and it oiled the economy.
If Nigeria was running smoothly, no one should go hungry. This is not a far-fetched idea, with the capacious natural wealth, if properly dispensed and appropriated, there would be efficient and affordable health services, a standard of educational system that could be the envy of the world (we know Nigerians excel in education), a definable amenities transportation, good road, railways and airways that is high standard and well run; a business friendly environment that encourages growth and development.
We also need conscientious Nigerians who are happy to provide a good service and take pride in their jobs, opportunity to create jobs and prosperity. Investment in the arts, environment and leisure. This way we can begin to diversify in our economy and tourism. Of course, it will help to have a police and armed forces to be proud of, their training, fully funded, their barracks and uniforms worthy of their jobs. Their pay will be enough to live on and any taking bribe will face the consequences. Most of all, they will be disciplined and knowing fully that they are there to serve and protect.
Imagine, it is possible, some of us did experience it in the not distant past and I hope many more have that opportunity now and in the future. I am full of optimism that it can and it should happen again for the future of the nation and its citizens. Forward, together.
Life in Nigeria has to improve for all Nigerians.
Everyone in Nigeria, must know someone who had made the perilous journey to get abroad to make their fortune. Some do make it but many do not and have been missing for many years and the family are none the wiser if they are alive or dead. There is a gaping wound that we do not talk about but it is present. Too many young Nigerians have packed up and made the decision to travel abroad to better their lives and that of their loved ones. Many Nigerians’ lives have perished crossing the desert towards Libya and then getting on crowded unseaworthy jetty to cross the seas towards Europe.
So many Nigerians have dreams that cannot be fulfilled in the present economic climate so they feel that they have no choice but to make the journey, no matter what, they believe that facing the unknown is better than being in Nigeria dying of starvation, no jobs or education. They see their future prospects as dim in a country of their birth that they rather dice with their lives. There is a revived slavery trade and slavery is not dead. You see, this time, no slavers around our shores forcing people on ship for centuries of slavery in the Americas. This time Nigerians are desperately buying their places on the slave routes. In 2017, sadly, it is happening, the trading in human misery recently, it was in the news that in Libya, black people are being corralled into pens and sound as slaves.
In Libya, there are two rival governments, an Isis franchise and countless local militias competing for control of a vast, sparsely populated territory awash in weapons, have allowed traffickers to flourish, checked only by the activities of their criminal rivalry is hard to believe, but it is true. It is hard to believe that a life in Nigeria could force people to go through this evil trade in human cargo. One of the stories that caught my eye is that of a Nigerian, Muhammed Yusuf, who had been sold, tortured and forced to watch his friend die.
There are intermediaries getting rich on human misery and they see it as providing a need. Yusuf is 24 and one of thousands of Nigerians who had travelled to Libya looking for work, or hoping to sail to Europe, who were instead sucked into a grim and violent world of slave markets, private prisons, and brutal forced brothels. It is easy to say, they could turn back, but they can’t. And if you tell people what befall those who have gone before, they dismiss it as if you do not want them to go.
These criminals and smugglers have no wish to let a single person return home and tell others what their traumatic experience was. This will spoil their business, so many are killed or die during the journey. They are left where they fall, discarded like used-up garbage. Last week, at least 245 people were killed by shipwrecks, bringing the toll for this year alone to 1,300. In 2016, more than 180,000 refugees arrived in Italy, the vast majority of them through Libya, according to UN agency the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). That number is forecast to top 200,000 this year – and these people form a lucrative source of income for militias and mafias who control Libya’s roads and trafficking networks.
This is no place for anyone. There is happy ever after as migrants who manage to reach Europe from Libya fall into the hands of kidnappers and smugglers, they are then tortured and extort the little cash they have on them while they wait to be rammed into overcrowded boats. Modern day slavery has taken root when government have failed to provide a future for the young people in Nigeria. Slavery leaves scars not just on the enslaved but on a nation. It makes it hard for a nation to recover when young and strong are leaving country in droves, looking for a better life and future. So is it worth it? Of course not. But Nigerians still do it because of the grinding poverty and lack of opportunity at home. This is a great tragedy of our time.