The Libyan Slave Route and The Greed Factor, By Kayode Ogundamisi

I just glanced through a list of over 2380 Nigerians who have returned from the notorious Libyan slave camps on failed and suicidal trips to Europe. Not ONE name from areas affected by the deadly Nigerian Boko Haram war was on the list. All the names there are from the fairly stable Southern Nigeria. Is the South also undergoing insurgency? Aside the general state of insecurity, and the economic crisis that is also applicable to most countries, do we really have a full-blown war in Southern Nigeria? Are people ducking from bombs and mass refugee camps?

Even if we had war in Southern Nigeria, would it not make sense to see long lines of refugees heading towards the Seme Border in Ogun State or the border between Cross River and Cameroon or in the direction of any other bordering countries in the South? No, our compatriots head North, cross to Niger and then to Libya on the deadly journey to Europe. Our young girls now account for the largest number of prostitutes in Europe; our drug dealing compatriots now account for the greater number of undesirables on European streets; not once will you meet a Nigerian victim of Boko Haram crisis seeking international escape, but just that migrant who desires a ‘better life’. Yet, there is nothing wrong in that but for choosing a deadly route and expecting applause when it goes wrong.

One would have expected those facing the Boko Haram war in the Northern part of Nigeria to be the first to face North Africa, considering that they are also closer to Niger and the slave trade route, but no they have remained in IDP camps or only relocated to safe areas within Nigeria and Africa, in the hope that things will get better soon. They are now our ‘mai guards’ in Lagos, you find them pushing wheel barrows in Aba, working on farms in Ikare and doing all that it takes to survive.

As we cry against the Libyans, can we also call out GREED disguised as DESPERATION, the very factor influencing most of the travelers? We can all try being politically correct but we have to go into our Southern Nigerian communities and find out what is really happening there; who are the criminal gangs selling greed to our vulnerable citizens?

It is natural for humans to seek opportunities but if you chose to pay thousands of dollars so you can have more than the basic needs of life, live in affluence or build mansions, the price you will ultimately pay could be disastrous.

You have nothing but yourself to blame. Return back home, borrow yourself some brain, as there are better legitimate means of migration, and invest those millions on a small scale business. Otherwise, you will die hard trying to migrate to Europe. The choice is yours. Nigeria is facing multiple challenges, don’t add your own self-inflicted choices to it.

It is understandable when refugees from war torn areas such as Syria, Iraq, South Sudan and even Boko Haram crisis infected areas, choose the Saharan route over gun and bomb blasts at home, but for an economic migrant to invest millions of naira into a journey of no return? It surely speaks volumes, and I shuddered in disbelief as one of the victims with a Yoruba sounding name on CNN claimed he would rather die than return to his home town in Ogun State. I try to imagine what could be going on in Ogun State that would inspire such desperation.

I acknowledge that Nigeria is not an outstanding place to be in, and a number of us migrated years back as a matter of choice, but that choice does not include subjecting oursleves to indignity in a slave camp. As I write this piece, another set of Nigerians are probably on their way to the land of no return; they may have watched the CNN expose but still decide to ignore the danger, as the only image they see is that of a neighbour who left a few years back who is now ‘doing well’ in Europe.

They will never see the drowning families, the young girls raped to death, the viral video of the Edo lady made to swallow the urine of her Libyan slave master, the young Nigerian girls buried in Italy, abandoned by their own government, etc. The new set of victims are propelled by the Nigerian lingo that “it is not my portion”, and it is only when death comes staring at them during the journey that they know danger does not understand Nigerian lingos or our religious mumbo jumbo.

You have nothing but yourself to blame. Return back home, borrow yourself some brain, as there are better legitimate means of migration, and invest those millions on a small scale business. Otherwise, you will die hard trying to migrate to Europe. The choice is yours. Nigeria is facing multiple challenges, don’t add your own self-inflicted choices to it.

Written By
Kayode Ogundamisi, a public affairs analyst, from the U.K.

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