Kenneth Gbandi and Femi Awoniyi are two Nigerian journalists plying their trade in Germany. Gbandi publishes African Heritage, the first African life style magazine with base in Hamburg Germany.
He also organizes the very popular Miss Africa Germany while Awoniyi founded African Courier, International news magazine published in Berlin Germany and widely circulated across Europe.
However, at this time, the duo are not editing the next edition of their magazine but have forged an alliance to enlighten Nigerian young people on the ills of unplanned emigration to Europe through the tortuous irregular means of the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean sea .
In the enlightenment dubbed ‘Look before you leave’ first launched in Lagos , Gbandi’s African German Information center (AGIC)and Awoniyi’s African Courier Verlag combine with the support of the German Foreign Affairs Office to spread the message of safe migration to Europe.
The duo unanimously says Enough is Enough to forced prostitution, slave labour, death on the sea or on the desert trail all of which are consequences of irregular migration.
Since the launch of the project , now dubbed Migration Enlightenment Project Nigeria in Lagos last year, Gbandi and Awoniyi have been touring Africa and Nigerian states to educate likely victims of unplanned migration.
Just last week, the Stakeholders’ Roundtable Dialogue on Migration’ organized by MEPN held in Abuja. The series of consultations with civil society on irregular migration have just begun and will travel across the nation to major cities like Enugu, Benin, Lagos, Warri and Ibadan much later in the year.
The event brought together youths, parents, journalists, artists, educationists and religious leaders, among others, to exchange ideas and experiences on the issues deriving from irregular migration.
According to Awoniyi “In the course of my work as publisher of African Courier, I encountered victims of irregular migration from Nigeria. I met many asylum seekers and noted specially their many tales of woe. I have also covered and reported events where many African bodies were recovered from the high sea and it is not a good sight at all. So MEPN seeks to sensitize society to the problems of irregular migration and the enormous costs that families and the nation pay. My advice is that young people should explore education as a reason to emigrate to Germany and indeed other parts of Europe because it guarantees the future”
He further said that the “current campaign is a follow-up to the one of last year in Lagos which attracted our core audience”
For Gbandi who is also President of Nigeria in Diaspora Organisation Europe and organizer of the Miss Nigeria Germany “the enormity of the illegal migration problem is being underestimated. As NIDOE president, I am worried by the regular reports of victims. We receive letters from those caught in the web of prostitution, slavery and other vices. I want to tell young Nigerians; don’t fall victim of human traffickers. Better seek reliable information about where you want to go. I mean the situation of things in the country of your desired destination.
That is not all; find out what is legal requirements to get there. Is there work? What kind of work? Will I have the permission to work? I want youths to look inwards to see if there are no better alternatives to migration. Please look before you leave”