By Francis Ewherido
It is no longer news that some Nigerians, especially youngsters and professionals, are leaving in droves. I said it a few weeks ago that the world is a global village and everybody has the right to decide where he wants to live. As I said in the article on Japa (relocating from Nigeria), you must have a plan, the right papers, and you must go through the legal routes. Without these, you might be planning for a worse experience than you are fleeing from. We know that for some years now, many Nigerian youths have been trying to get into Europe via Libya. They start this perilous journey by being packed like sardines into vehicles. These Nigerians start dying in Nigeria due to suffocation as a result of overloading of the vehicles.
The number of casualties increases once they cross into Niger Republic. They die due to the desert heat, dehydration, starvation and gunshots from armed bandits in the desert. They go through unimaginable treatment. They drink their own urine or beg for urine of other migrants to drink to quench their thirst once their water finishes. The menstruating women squeeze their pads and drink their menses to quench their thirst. Reports from migrants inform us that there is a well in the Sahara Desert where dead bodies are dumped. These migrants fetch water from the well with dead bodies to drink. But all these are child’s play. Their woes multiply once they get into Libya. According to them, the Libyans see blacks as subhuman. They are beaten and maltreated. The extortion is massive, some of the migrants who cannot pay are sold as slaves and commodities while some of the women are forced into prostitution. According to some Nigerian Libyan returnees, as many as 20 per cent of the people who started the journey with them never get to Libya or die in Libya.
A large part of Libya is currently a lawless with the death of their former supreme leader, Col. Muammar Gadhafi. If America had known that Gadhafi was keeping so many mad people in check, they would probably have let him be. The instability in Libya has spread to West Africa. The insecurity currently plaguing Nigeria has a lot to do with the collapse of Libya. It worsened the proliferation of illegal arms in Nigeria.
The last and major hurdle that migrants face is crossing the Mediterranean Sea to get to Europe. Over 20,000 migrants have perished in that sea over the last 10 years. They embarked on that perilous journey mainly from West Africa, Central Africa, East Africa and Asia. Sometimes as many as 300 migrants can perish in a single boat mishap. Not surprising, many of the victims are Nigerians. And some people are saying they are fleeing from the hardship in Nigeria. Nigeria is tough right now and there is insecurity, but it is nothing close to what the migrants go through in this mindless journey. The insecurity on the Libyan route once you leave Nigeria and the hardship the migrants go through are unimaginable. Before you embark on a journey, you should do some research and ask questions to enable you prepare adequately. Apparently they do not. How can you embark on a journey through the Sahara Desert without basic things like water to drink and clothing to protect you from the element of the weather?
I have been listening to the tales of woes from the returnees. Sometimes, you want to slap them. According to one of them, he was a sales boy who “served” (worked for) his master for an agreed number of years. When he was done with his apprenticeship, the master settled him with N5m. That was a lot of money then. Even as at today, if some youngsters get N5m, they can start a small business and grow gradually. He not only had N5m, he had the knowledge necessary to succeed in that field of business. But, when his friends told him about the Eldorado in Europe, greed took over. Why not grow his wealth gradually over time like building a house one block at a time. But his friends convinced him that he can simply get to Europe and blow (become rich overnight)? Anybody who has gone to Europe and America knows there is no such thing. Even our doctors, nurses and other professionals go back to school or training to get certificates and other qualifications before they can get jobs. And that is for those who entered legally and have genuine documents. For others, it is Israelite journey. They do menial or odd jobs and nobody blows by doing odd jobs. Those who blow after a couple of years abroad engaged in illegal or criminal activities.
Anyway, this migrant and his friends left Nigeria for Europe via Libya. He said as many as 200 of his friends died between Nigeria and while in Libya. What has hardship in Nigeria got to do with this case? This is pure greed. I can never praise the Nigerian governments at all levels over time. They put us in this mess and turned us to a laughing stock all over the world. But this foolish journey can never make senses to me.
Families get together, sell the family land to enable them to raise money to send their daughters to Europe. Their only qualification is secondary school education and some did not even get certificates; they also have zero skills. What does that tell you? The families are sending them for prostitution. Is that because of hardship in Nigeria? Parents who send their daughters for prostitution are morally bankrupt.
Nigeria is very tough, I will continue to say it. But trying to japa via the Libyan route is the height of foolishness. If you must Japa, have a plan of what you want to do with your life, prepare adequately and get professional guidance. Serious people who want to japa do so through the airport and fly by air to Europe and America. Africa is an Island and you cannot get outside Africa by road.
In spite of all the sordid stories of the Libyan route, some youngsters are still warming up to go to Europe via Libya. I watched a video where youngsters were being tutored on the dangers of the Libyan route. I heard comments like, “it will not be my portion in Jesus name,” “those when die na their luck,” “everybody with im own destiny.” There is a proverb that the dog that is destined to go missing does not hear the whistle of the owner at the end of hunting. This perilous route is not worth the effort. The efforts individuals and families are putting into this perilous endeavour might just yield better results here in Nigeria if properly directed. Nigeria is frustrating our youths, but if you feel the only way to realise your dream is travelling abroad, go through the proper and legal channels.