SLAVE TRADE IN LIBYA AND THE SHAME OF THE GIANT BY ALEX ENEMANNA

Prior to November last year when CNN published a blockbuster footage that sent chill down the spine of many, little did we know that slavery in 21st century still assumes the crude and rudely shocking dimension as portrayed in the clip. More worrisome, Nigeria carried the trophy in the list of the countries with the highest number of (illegal) migrants as well as traffickers, a sad example of a brother making a kill in the misery and agony of a brother.

In the CNN video, men were being sold at auction in Libya for $400. Like any other buyer/seller meeting point, humans were reduced to common commodities to be bought, used and discarded when they no more have values. This has not only exposed how morally bankrupt the continent has descended, but the ravaging poverty threatening it to its foundation and the laxity at which issues of human dignity and rights are being treated. One cannot but ask, does it really need a US news medium to unravel mother atrocities going on around the continent? What has become of our envoys scattered across the world?

In the US' 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report released recently, 14 African countries are among the 23 worst offenders for human trafficking. According to the report, they are countries whose "governments do not fully meet the [Trafficking Victims Protection Act's (TVPA)] minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so. They include countries like Nigeria, Burundi, Central African Republic, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, South Sudan and Sudan. The second tier countries are reported to be making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with the standards but do not fully meet the minimum. They include Angola, Botswana, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Morocco, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia and Uganda.

That our dear country has continued to occupy the forefront in everything unsavoury and unenvious is not unconnected with decades of leadership drought that has not only eaten deep into the fabrics of our system but has been institutionalised to be part and parcel of it. It has become the new normal while the corporate development of the people in all sphere has proven to be a mission impossible. Having experimented it all ranging from the military rule to the civil-military rule to the current over-dressed civil rule called democracy, we have continually been unlucky to have men and women devotedly committed to drive the country out of the multifaceted doldrums it has been deeply mired into and stamp out the unpalatable narratives to position it as a beautiful bride in the global stage everyone would be proud to take home.

A husband and father who has fatally failed and abdicated in his responsibility of providing for his household should bear no grudge when his wife finds a trade in junketing from house to house including that of his enemies in earnest quest for stomach infrastructure or when his children exhibit longthroat tendencies when his neighbour's dish is served. No wonder the holy book expressly likened the man who cannot provide for his household as worse than infidel. That our youth, who otherwise should be the power house to drive our economy are being sold to slavery in faraway Libya like vegetables is enough to cause our leaders sleepless nights, cause them to put on their thinking cap, if any exists any where and wake the snoring giant in us.

According to figure from International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in each of the last three years, 150,000 people have made the dangerous crossing across the Mediterranean Sea from Libya. For four years in a row, 3,000 migrants have died while attempting the journey. In its September 2017 report, an estimated 400,000 to 1,000,000 migrants and refugees are stranded in various detention centres in the country with Africa topping the chart and Nigeria being on the lead. This does not in any parameter tell good of us and indeed calls for the concern of all citizens. If those youths, fully aware of the unkind climate and (mal)treatment that await them in this route in quest for the golden fleece (real or imaginary) still choose to undertake it and at a no cheaper rate, all is not well with our home.

There are reports that parents and guardians play active if not key role is sending their children and wards on this unpopular venture. More disturbing, is a situation where intending travelers employ any arsenal within them to raise resources. According to a recent returnee, she closed down her hair dressing and beauty shop from where she could at least carter for her basic needs and remain afloat; sold her equipment and add it to her "small savings" to set out to Europe, a land supposedly over flowing with milk and honey. There could be many others in her shoes. Some may have as well resorted to selling their ancestral family land or borrowing from any source to go to Europe or where ever the green pasture grows, with an unclear hope of coming home to become land dealers themselves or offset the debts. This is the kind of problem we are frontally confronted with. This casts a moral question on the entire populace where the drive for easy-come wealth is at a very high wattage.

We must give credit to the Federal government for activating its various agencies such as National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCRMI), National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and other relevant agencies including some state governments who have re-acted even though belated in receiving their deported citizens. But beyond the reaction, proactive steps could be taken to ameliorate the ugly trend that has continually made the country an object of ridicule in the comity of nations. Report has it that about 2,000 migrants have been brought home so far between November 2017 and now, yet over 6,000 still stuck in the North African country. The tales of the returnees are such that not everyone wish to translate them from imagination to reality, at least for one's self. From forced labour to serial rape to torture, extortion, robbery and exposure to life-threatening diseases, the situation to say the least is horrific.

No nation attains its potentials fully by turning a deaf ear while it's young population that ordinarily should be the icing in its cake of productivity, food security and general development continue to troop out in mind boggling proportion to a journey of fear and uncertainty. It smacks of epic embarrassment and organised disgrace for whatever Nigeria stands for as the giant of Africa. How can we sleep with our two eyes closed, dance and merry while our young men and women are being lured out to sex slavery and all forms of dehumanising treatments all over the world? The government must role out mechanisms that will ensure that the draconian level of unemployment is tackled head on. With the figure of unemployment grow from 14.2% to 18.8% as at the last quarter of 2017 according to NBS and more people being offloaded to the labour market from our higher institutions, we need no soothsayer to tell us we are lying on a keg of gunpowder that will likely explode and consume all of us if urgent and cogent steps are not taken to forestall them. gold mother of the bride dresses

That this government has recorded more job loss than job creation leaves a sour taste in the mouth. The moribund Ajaokuta steel industry, textile and paper mills and other industries in comatose across the nation can be revived to engage our youths meaningfully.

Agriculture with numerous potentials and the huge GDP value it has has not been fully tapped for our general good. I am not talking of the CBN anchor borrower program that has created millionaires in one section of the country but a sincerely, deep rooted and far reaching approach to make the industry more engaging for our numerous youths.

The National Orientation Agency (NOA) should wake up from its slumber and drum up an aggressive campaign against the concomitant dangers of back door overseas trip. This will save our youths from the avoidable suicidal trip the society has foisted on them as the only escape window from a country that has not done enough for them in the midst of plenty.