By Josef Omorotionmwan
WILLIAM Wilberforce (1759-1833), profound politician and philanthropist, should have been alive today to see that more than two centuries down the line, the struggle he started in 1787 – to abolish slave trade and slavery itself – has not come to any finality. Not much has changed.
Surely, the intensity may have been reduced and the anguish associated with the trade may have been scaled down drastically, particularly in proportion to the explosion in world population, but the trade in human cargo – by the modern name, human trafficking – persists till date.
The modus operandi of the modern slave traders may be different because the ancient traders have long passed on and their strings of successors may have moved to more lucrative areas of commerce. Indeed, if you could lift oil for good dollars, why would you want to remain in the hazardous business of lifting human elements?
Today’s slave trader and his articles of trade are mainly domiciled within the indigenous population. At all times, the motivation in slave trade has been purely economic – the simple lucre for blood money.
Wittingly or unwittingly, it is not unusual to find people today recruiting themselves into slavery in the name of seeking the greener pastures, so-called.
It has always been this way. At a point in the life of a youth, he wants to go and experience what is happening in another place. Distance lends enchantment to the view. Suddenly, a man would leave his wife and children in this all-year-round beautiful weather where in a simple singlet, he would feel fine; and move into a “Deep Freezer” where with ten layers of sweaters, his nose would still be dripping – a new place where his God’s given rights would be totally curtailed!
When the youth wants to move, he wants to move – not always because he is unemployed here as is generally assumed. Early 1973, Mr. ‘A’ was already a Supervisor with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN. He quit that job and came to join us in Munich, Germany. In three months, his visiting visa had expired and he fell into the category of an illegal alien. We were yet helping him to look for where he could do dishes or wash cars to earn some Deutche Mark and reduce his dependence on us.
On that fateful Monday morning, the weather was terrible, oscillating around zero degree. Mr. ‘A’ said he wasn’t going anywhere that day. He went back to bed; and we left to “pull gburu”. Behold, when we returned, he was no longer around. We met a note on his bed that around noon, there was a knock on the door. When he opened, the polizei were there. Because he had a return ticket, they just dumped him in the next available plane back to Nigeria.
Illegal migration has always been a most hazardous business where some are luckier than others. If the full facts were known, it would be found that some of the most successful people, past and present, in both government, commerce and industry, were at one time or another, illegal aliens.
The recent resurgence of human trafficking and slavery in Nigeria points only in one direction – Government is always at the receiving end of the blames resulting from the illegal migration and the subsequent trade in human Cargo among involved Nigerians. But come to think of it, Government may not be as culpable as it seems. In good and in bad times, youths want to go out. Sometimes they succeed; and other times, they hit a rock. When they hit a rock, we blame them but when they succeed, we applaud them, particularly when they remit money back home to help boost our Gross Domestic Product, GDP.
As for heaving all blames on Government, Ralph Emerson (1803-1882) is instructive, “Can anyone remember when times were not hard and money not scarce?” Youth restiveness is a fact of life. When it comes, it comes. You would be marveled at how many people want to come to Nigeria from other parts of the world, even in a depression!
The exodus of our youths to foreign lands has many dimensions to it. There is a particular trend that is currently gaining grounds, which, with time, would insult our collective sensibilities as a people – harvesting the living! Our Omniscience God had reasons for giving us double, and sometimes multiple, shares of some vital organs of the body-two ears, two eyes, two kidneys, two scrotums and even millions of some body cells.
There is nothing wrong in donating some of these organs to our dear and loved ones who might be in dire need of them to stay alive. But there is everything wrong in going abroad to engage in commercial adventurism on the sale of these vital organs. Eventually, these adventurers return home as chaffs and walking corpses, useless to themselves, their families and their society – having been totally harvested.
In all this, our approach can only be persuasive and advisory. After all, those involved are engaged in voluntary commerce between two consenting adults – a willing seller and a willing buyer.
We commend the Federal and State Governments on their humane handling of the recent Libya returnees. For the first time, we saw a well-coordinated effort, with the welfare and rehabilitation of the returnees in full focus.
As they say in the colloquial, “Edo no dey carry last”. This is amply demonstrated in the human trafficking saga where Edo has consistently dominated the medals table. This is as it should be. After all, Edo is a macrocosm of the Nigerian State, representing the good, the bad and the ugly.
This is the time to continuously drum in our children that truly, there is always light at the end of the tunnel; but some of those lights could be those of oncoming trains. They must be watchful, lest they could be crushed. Such is life.