(By Iheanyi Ezinwo) -Nigeria is regarded as the giant of Africa because of her large population and abundant resources. However, the nation has been unable to live up to the expectation of the world, the reason why The Economist once dismissed the country as a stunted giant, and that the world will not look up to Nigeria until she wakes from slumber.
Unfortunately, poor leadership has overtime limited Nigeria from fulfilling her potentials. Overtime, it has been one negative report after another thereby compelling those who hitherto had looked in the direction of government for hope to look elsewhere.
The current story of Nigerians, being among African migrants who are sold as slaves in Libya, is one bad news too many. The females, according to reports are forced into prostitution and forced marriages, while others are killed and their organs harvested and sold.
Although reports say that about 89 million people have been forced into some form of modern slavery over the past 5 years, the intolerable situation was brought to the attention of the international community forcefully in February 2017.
Victims from Nigeria, like other migrants from West Africa are seeking greener pastures in Europe. Some of them are subjected to forced labour, after being kidnapped on their way by smugglers who are working with human traffickers. Those who escape from the hands of smugglers are allegedly hounded into detention centres by officials of the government of Libya.
Meanwhile, Newsweek.com has observed that the political instability since the toppling and killing of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, has made Libya a centre of attraction for migration and human trafficking, and that while awaiting deportation to their home countries at government detention centres, migrants become vulnerable to smugglers and human traffickers in an almost lawless environment.
While it is regrettable that citizens of Nigeria are frustrated to the point of embarking on such hazardous journeys to Europe, it is important that many have described the development as a vote of no confidence on successive governments in Nigeria at all levels.
Time has therefore come for the government of Nigeria to give priority attention to the welfare of its citizens, and protect it jealously the same way they protect the nation’s territorial integrity.
As Newsweek.com reports Femi Fani-Kayode as quoting which claimed that 75 percent of those sold in the Libyan slave trade are from southern Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari has faulted allegations indifference. The president was reported as saying that government has put machinery in place to bring back stranded Nigerians from Libya, and also rehabilitate them.
While we commend the action of government which some have described as belated, the Libyan experience should serve as a wake up call for Nigerian leaders to be proactive. Government must come up with policies that would engage the youthful population. It is only the enhancement of capacities of the youths to engage in entrepreneurship and other gainful ventures that would deter people from fleeing the country, on a suicide mission to Europe.
The joy of true living, according to Sidney Newton Bremer, is only experienced by those who are engaged in working, creating and fulfilling their aspirations. The onus therefore is on the government and people of Nigeria to provide an enabling environment for her energetic youths, not only for children of government officials, to fulfill themselves as human beings. It is only then that they can have confidence in government and be loyal to their country.