By Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu
THE government of the United States of America yesterday lauded the federal government and that of Edo state on their efforts to discourage illegal migration and promote productivity among young people in the country.
The America government said even in the face of daunting economic, social and political challenges, the Nigerian government has shown focus and determination to check illegal migration.
The America Consul General to Nigeria, Claire Pierangelo stated this in Benin City, Edo state yesterday at the launch of U.S. Consulate Girls’ Mentoring & Football Program Titled: “Goal! Strong Girls, Bright Future”
She warned Nigerian girls about the trend in human trafficking saying the US government is committed to combating all forms of modern slavery.
She said the programme is to “teach the girls not only how to have respect for themselves and to strengthen their minds and bodies towards sports it is also how to strengthen their minds and bodies to resist other threats to them, we are teaching them how to recognise the threats of trafficking and we hope they will take this out to teach their friends, sisters, cousins and others.
“We know certainly we can’t teach them in one day that is why we are in close cooperation with the Nigerian government at the national level and the Edo state government at the local level because they have programmes that will continue to reintegrate the victims into the society.”
She said that Sports Diplomacy is an integral part of the US embassy’s efforts to build even stronger relations between the United States and Nigeria and therefore brought two American athletes; Staci Wilson and Joanna Lohman, who are former members of the U.S. Women’s National Team, alongside former Super Falcons goalkeeper Precious Dede to engage about one hundred girls from several public schools in Benin City.
She said “The United States of America commends both Federal and State Governments for what they have done and we encourage them to do more. But it is also the responsibility of citizens to help stop trafficking through programs like these, girls can become aware of the dangers of trafficking and learn how to detect and prevent it, and better protect themselves.
“More importantly, these girls must be encouraged to be confident and feel empowered to pursue their dreams by acquiring an education, thereby making a better life for themselves and improving their communities.
“Sports diplomacy uses the universal passion for sports as a way to transcend differences and bring people together. Participation in sports teaches leadership, teamwork, and communication skills that help young people succeed in all areas of their lives.
And our envoys are here to not only teach these girls football skills but also to engage young women and girls on a very important topic – human trafficking.”
Edo State Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Professor (Mrs) Yinka Omorogbe commended the US embassy for the collaboration saying it will help the state to do more in combating the human trafficking menace.
“We are very happy to have this collaboration in Edo state because it will further boost our efforts against human trafficking in the state. It is really good because we are teaching people that they have all it takes to be a great person once they work hard and they are diligent in their business. In fact, we are telling them that any of the women they can see around they can be like us, they can be better and even Excell in any area they find themselves. There is so much to get when you are committed to a course,” she said.
Precious Dede who was Super Falcon goalkeeper and captain for many years narrated how she used proceeds from her football career to sponsor her siblings even after losing their parents while in higher institution.
On their part, Staci Wilson and Joanna Lohman said they discovered their interests in football and despite opposition, got committed and focused to get to the level they attained which they said made them become role models to many young people.