The horrifying accounts of modern-day slavery that surfaced in recent days have raised several questions for us as a people. Shockingly, our fellow Nigerian citizens are being sold into slavery for as little as two hundred dollars and having both their bodies and their basic human rights violated.
This harrowing turn of affairs leaves us wondering how far we have truly come as a nation. Have we made any progress at all if our own people are being subjected to these atrocities in their desperate attempts to seek greener pastures?
This phenomenon of running to Europe is not new. According to BBC News, Nigerians have attempted the treacherous journey to Europe by the thousands since 2003. Desperate nationals have made life-threatening attempts to travel illegally to the European continent, risking their lives to taste the illusion of a better life in Europe.
Reasons for these dangerous ventures include disillusionment with daily life, seeking job opportunities or running away from oppression and danger here at home. Each of these reasons points a blaming finger at one party and one party alone: The Nigerian government.
The federal republic’s failure to promote and uphold the wellbeing of its citizens has resulted in mass endangerment and death. Heartless acts such as embezzlement are taking food out of the mouths of uneducated children and adults and leaving them with no option but to seek a better life elsewhere at any costs.
This was the story of the approximately one hundred and twenty-eight migrants who tragically drowned while attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe in March of 2017. It is also the story of the thirty-six thousand Nigerians who successfully crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Italy in 2016, most of them running away from Boko Haram insurgency and the Niger Delta crisis.
The mass exodus of Nigerians illustrates the Nigerian government’s failure to perform its responsibilities and secure the basic needs of its citizens. The crimes against humanity discovered last week in Libya have escalated the issue.
Libya has long been the main transit point for illegal African migrants to Europe. Recently, a group of rogues have taken advantage of Libya’s chaotic political situation and these dejected people by subjecting them to horrible conditions and a lifetime of servitude. These criminals in Libya are indeed to blame for the atrocities, but they would have no avenue to do so without the Nigerian government’s failure to provide a decent life for the people.
The disheartening situation simultaneously presents a need and an opportunity for the Nigerian government to step up. We cannot sit by and wait for the West to rescue our people. The time for Western dependence has long passed. We must appeal to the Nigerian government to bring our brothers and sisters back home to humanity. May God Bless our beloved Country, Nigeria.
Funmilayo Adetokunbo A-A, a political and International Affairs Analyst, writes from Somerset, England, United Kingdom.