Bodies washed up ashore, sordid tales of survivors rescued from rickety and cranked up boats that stand no chance against the tide of nature are grim, horrific and heart-wrenching pictures that reveal the dangers and horrors of refugees continually trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to get to Europe.
It is a journey that is laced with booby-traps and ambushed by uncertainties. One can easily conclude that it is a journey with an underwhelming 50-50 chance of survival. Succinctly put: it is a ‘life and death’ situation. Refugees either make it or ‘die trying’. And unfortunately or regrettably, the latter has been the lot of many migrants attempting the dangerous crossing. The death of 26 Nigerian ladies-within the ages of 14-18-and their discovery in a Spanish warship last week on the Italian island of Salerno only reinforces this fact.
The unsavory and treacherous expedition to leave Africa for Europe kind of mimic the slave trade era. The differences are just the location and actors. Instead of Badagry, an historic coastline town and slave hub located in Nigeria renowned for its slavery “point of no return” some centuries ago, this time, it is Libya. Instead of forceful captivity against the will of the captives, this time, Nigerians and Africans in general are willing and ready to embark on this journey-a decision not of their own making but of those in charge of their political and economic destinies.
In the midst of plenty, Nigerians and Africans in general have continually suffered. Political and economic conditions have not been favourable. Rather than improve, it has deteriorated, further casting doubt, hopelessness and disillusionment over a brighter and better tomorrow.
The untold hardship and poverty has and will continually fuel the desire to escape from the clutches of misery, and insecurity. For the migrants, the gain outweighs the pain. The continued report of deaths, inhumane treatment and abuses in the hands of smugglers and traffickers does not discourage them from taking the ‘plunge’. Bet this explains why the Mediterranean route still remains a business hub for illegal trafficking and transit into Europe.
While the death of the 26 ladies might have hurt Nigeria, the government’s reactionary mechanism should be applauded, however, a reflective and retrospective approach on the remote and immediate factors fueling this misadventure would also bode well for Abuja’s public relations image before Nigerians and the international community.
This latest tragic incident should be a cause for concern; a worrying one and an ominous sign for the current administration that all is not well in the land.
In spite of the dangers involved, the question is, why are Nigerians ready to stake their all and embark on this treacherous journey? What were the 26 dead victims; all teens, ages 14-18, doing on the ship? These are girls that ought to be in school, but, here they were, on an ill-fated mission to Europe. These and many more questions deserve answers from the government.
Nigerians are industrious. They are renowned for being resilient. Hardwired into their DNA, adversity and impossibility is not a deterrent to attaining success. It is a trait that has steadied the economic sinking ship of Nigeria over the years and provided a ‘life-jacket’ for her suffering masses.
But, this trait is gradually wearing out. Excruciating economic conditions and extreme poverty are becoming cancerous to this innate quality. The ‘e go better’ tenacity is gradually succumbing to disillusion, frustration, hopelessness and unfortunately, suicide.
The latter has become a popular resort for some who can no longer put up defenses. Escaping misery by committing suicide is a wrongful and pathetic option Nigerians are fast embracing.
And for many who can’t put up with the idea, bailing out by embarking on the Mediterranean crossing through Libya is a worthy and attractive option-A position which underlines the head of senate committee on Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa’s opposition to the dangerous expedition.
Erewa was clear, “it is not worth it” while responding to the tragic incident involving the 26 dead girls.
Yes! It isn’t worth it. But, it is a journey many are ready to overlook its dangers and uncertainties just to get to the proverbial promise land-Europe; a land that is gradually shutting its door on immigrants; most especially refugees.
The high rate of unemployment, widening gap cum crater between the rich and the poor, and poverty will continue to fan the embers and lure many Nigerians; mostly the youth to embark on this dangerous crossing. And unfortunately, it is a scenario with more grim and far-reaching consequences.
The picture painted above keeps some people in business.
As long as people are willing, they are vulnerable. And that sits well with human traffickers and smugglers.
Bet that explains how the unlucky ‘26’ teenage girls ended up in body bags. They were victims and had they survived, their final destination might have been on the red-light districts of Milan, Turin, Amsterdam just to mention a few.
It is truly a worrying and dangerous trend for Nigeria and her youths.
The soul of a nation resides in her tomorrow and her future. Investing in the leaders of tomorrow is the real deal. It is a phenomenon that does not exempt Nigeria.
But, painfully and regrettably, Africa’s most populous country has talked much and done less. The actions of those in charge have been less convincing.
The indifference and insensitivity of the Oyo state government towards the plight of LAUTECH students who had been forced to sit at home following an eight months strike by their lecturers before a truce was reached with the university teachers is just an example in a long list of misguided policies of the political leadership towards the acclaimed “leaders of tomorrow”.
Setting the conditions right by Abuja is definitely the panacea to the perennial migratory movement that endangers the lives of promising Nigerians.
Because it is its constitutional responsibilities to cater or provide for its citizens, it becomes imperative to address the country’s socio-economic woes. Until this is done, bet the grim pictures of seeing more Nigerians end up in body bags while trying to embark on the journey of no return would continue to haunt her.