Death of 26 Nigerian Women: Lawyers, Activists Slam FG, Seek end to Economic Crisis

Adegboruwa, Adeniran and Ubani
Adegboruwa, Adeniran and Ubani

Death of 26 Nigerian Women: Lawyers, Activists Slam FG, Seek end to Economic Crisis

Reacting to the development, some notable bodies and individual Nigerians blamed the Federal Government, its agencies and the harsh economic situation in the country for the tragedy.

Spanish ship1
Rescuers recover dead bodies from the Spanish ship ‘Cantabria’ in the harbour of Salerno, Italy… on Sunday

The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, said the Federal and state governments must tackle the rising rate of unemployment in the country to curb the menace of human trafficking.

The CACOL Director, Debo Adeniran, said, “The problems of illegal migration and trafficking are an accumulated issue. We have a high population of children and youths in this country and we are not planning for their future. Workplaces are actually winding up and no new jobs are springing up. This is why people want to leave and look for the proverbial ‘greener pastures.’

“The establishment of agencies such as NAPTIP (is commendable) but in recent times, some officials are complicit in some of these cases. Authorities need to pay more attention to these agencies, including the Nigeria Immigration Service. If our agencies do their work conscientiously, we will not have a lot of these problems.

“The important step by the government is to create more jobs for our youths and school-leavers. We need to ensure that we create an enabling environment for those who want to establish their own jobs.”

Activist lawyer, Mr. Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, blamed illegal migration by citizens on economic hardship, which creates a sense of desperation.

He said though the blame could not be entirely put on the doorsteps of the current administration, the government had not done enough to address the question of citizens’ survival.

Adegboruwa said, “The situation of Nigeria has taught everyone to become a government to themselves. The government has neglected its responsibility under the constitution, which says that the welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government. The country we live in now does not recognise merit, even when you score high mark, they tell you, you can’t gain university admission because you are not from a particular part of the country; you can’t get a job, there is no health facility, there is no road; so, our youths are daily dying in the Sahara Desert on their way to Libya, on their way to Italy, to Europe and I think that this is a pointer to the fact that our economy is down.

“We live in a country where everybody is for himself and God for all. I believe the situation of the Nigerian economy does not offer hope for our youths; it does not offer hope for those who have no connections; and life is getting tougher by the day. So, I think that this event in particular is a pointer to the fact that our economy has not improved.

“Beyond what we read in the newspapers, Nigerians know what is happening in their homes, there is darkness. They know what is happening in their bank accounts – salaries are not paid, pension is not paid. So, people have lost their purchasing power and so the only option left is for our people to seek greener pastures because in those places that they are going to – America, Europe – the things that we are battling with here are taken for granted. Nigeria is killing its people. I do not think that this government is particularly the one to blame for it but I think it has not done enough to address the question of survival for the ordinary Nigerian and that is unfortunate.”

A Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Monday Ubani, also blamed illegal migration on economic hardship.

Ubani said, “I don’t think there is any policy in place towards checking this kind of illegal migration; we see a lot of people perishing on the sea trying to migrate to Europe, to the so-called greener pastures and I don’t think there is any clear policy in place to discourage people. I know that Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa has been in charge, trying to discourage Nigerians from such a fatalistic journey. But I don’t think there is a government structure or policy in place to ensure that Nigerians don’t embark on a journey like this.

“Apart from Nigeria, nationals of other African countries are also embarking on this dangerous journey, with many perishing on the sea. So, it is not peculiar to Nigeria.

“And in the Nigerian situation, it didn’t just start and it’s not peculiar to this administration. People have always had this wrong notion that immediately they cross over, they will pick money on the ground. As I speak to you, there are those who will be willing to spend N1m to cross over to go and hustle, not that they are going there as expatriate to get skilled employment.”

Similarly, the Chairman of the Civil Society Network Against Corruption, Mr. Olanrewaju Suraj, blamed the problem on institutional failure.

Suraj said, “To be fair, this is not something that can be attributed to a particular government. It has always been there and I think it is probably reducing not basically because the government is doing anything more but because people are getting more conscious of the hazards associated with such trips. For that reason, you can see a certain level of decline. But unfortunately, the government institutions are really not doing enough. You only see NAPTIP, RRS showing few individuals that were arrested for trafficking but there is really no conscious, holistic approach connecting all the security agencies.”

The National Legal Adviser of the Nigerian Bar Association, Chief Rafiu Balogun, and the Chairman, NBA, Ilorin branch, Mr. Issa Mazumah, identified acute unemployment, harsh economic environment, bad governance, corruption, insecurity, epileptic power supply and high crime rate as some of the reasons for the increasing rate of such illegal migration.

Balogun said, “It is sad that our youths are leaving this country for greener pastures abroad because they are not gainfully employed in this country. You can imagine that our able-bodied young people after graduating from universities are not employed.

“In other climes, they will plan ahead for their youths, as they are leaving tertiary institutions, they will be gainfully employed and even if they are not employed, they will have some social security or welfare programme that will sustain them.”

Mazumah said, “Many Nigerians, including my humble self, want to leave this country because of bad governance. The situation in the country is more frightening. There is serious or chronic unemployment, power failure or the lack of power, lack of critical infrastructure. Corruption remains a major problem.

“In fact, the other time, I was on a particular federal highway and to my dismay, I saw some members of the Nigerian Armed Forces collecting bribes on Nigerian road. The commercial vehicle drivers said he had no change and they asked him to wait and they changed the money, gave him the balance and took their bribe.”

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