The Migration Enlightenment Project Nigeria (MEPN) recently said more than 750 Nigerians have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea in an illegal migration move to Europe. Media reports quote the group as saying that even more may have died across the Sahara desert and transit countries to Europe.
The craze for greener pasture is driving many young Nigerians to their early graves in a most embarrassing way. There is nothing wrong with someone searching for greener pasture but it should not be done at the detriment of one’s life and national pride. Despite the risks attached to illegal migration, many Nigerians still brave it, albeit with severe consequences.
When 26 people believed to be Nigerian women and girls were found dead in a migrant ship on their way to Europe, I was not surprised. I was not surprised because I have been long wondering why some Nigerians choose to continuously embarrass themselves by struggling to embark on dangerous journeys to other countries which often turn out as a metaphor for great ills arising from their stupid mistake. It wasn’t the first time they met such fate, its either they are disgracefully repatriated, assaulted or even killed, as in the recent case, while attempting to go to other countries supposedly in search of good life.
The belief that the current state of the nation’s economy is propelling the recourse to such adventure is a very lame excuse to me because even in the countries they struggle to enter, their economies are not as good as usually presumed. Besides, if all Nigerians of productive age decide to escape to other countries, I wonder who will remain to make the country what we all expect it to be. Many countries that are rich today passed through one hard period or the other. China, which is today a country admired, envied or hated by many, was once a very badly suppressed country under the control of stronger nations under unequal treaties. They were paying taxes and other levies to stronger nations who subjected Chinese nationals to inhuman treatment. But gradually, the people of China struggled to build their country into what is today the world’s second largest economy, one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, and a country where other nationals aspire to go to earn better living. There are several other countries with such description. Even in Africa, Rwanda, which suffered a horrendous genocide in the early 80’s, has grown to become one of Africa’s success stories, same with Botswana and Namibia, among others. Why then should Nigeria, considered a big power in Africa, be made to carry the shame of her citizens trudging out to other countries in search of better living? While I do not wish to hold brief for the government, I consider it a manifestation of laziness to tie such shameful journeys to government’s inability to provide jobs for the citizens. Even in the countries that they run to, they are generally not employed by government, but hang out for menial jobs and prostitution in most cases. Citizens of those countries are themselves looking for ways to improve their lives, and at times, vent their anger on foreigners who they claim are taking their jobs, example South Africa, where several Nigerians have been reported killed in the recent past. It is therefore important to advise fellow Nigerians to strive to remain at home to cut decent living for themselves, no matter how modest, instead of trooping to other lands and meeting shame, humiliation or death. Government on its part should strive to rise to its responsibility by matching words with action on job creation and provision of basic amenities to make life worth living for the less privileged.
Soglo F. Ben writes from Bida, Niger State