When a 13-year-old boy, Daniel Oikkena, embarked on the dangerous path of squeezing himself into the tyre compartment of Arik aircraft, with the belief that he would end up in America, the action sent out a strong message of migration driven by frustration.
Ironically, government officials who ought to have been shamefaced, for making life in Nigeria a living hell, went to town celebrating the heroics of the young boy. The young man could have died in the process, just as so many other desperate persons that had tried to migrate through irregular means.
In recent times, migration has sparked off much interest and debates, especially in destination countries where political establishments have become sensitive to the socio-economic pressures and demographic consequences arising from the process. Consequently, European countries have taken drastic steps to contain migration surge.
The history of emigration in Africa, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, has been chequered; and tumultuous. Incidents of political instability, lack of economic opportunities, bad governance natural disasters, escape from persecution or quest for knowledge and leisure, have over time remained as the key precipitating factors responsible for the movement of people from Africa.
Today, there is a new wave of migration inspired by the desire to be part of the globalisation process and promises of a better life. It is a development that we cannot ignore either for its positive contributions to human development or its adverse consequences, especially when caused by acts of desperation. Only recently, about 87 persons perished in the Sahara Desert. Dangerous as this route has been over the centuries, many desperate young people have fallen prey to human trafficking syndicates that extort money from them with promises to assist them get to Europe through North Africa.
Many of these desperadoes have ended up being killed and their kidneys sold to human organ traders. Those who tried to move Southwards, notably to Central and Southern African countries, using rickety boats and rafts, have either succeeded or died. It is disheartening that millions of those trapped in this desperation are young people, full of life and energy, people whose sweat and blood should otherwise be the engine blocks to build their nation’s wealth.
These are people who prefer to die in dangerous migration process because life in their fatherland has become meaningless. We make bold to say that the fault lies squarely at the doorsteps of government and its institutions. It is the fault of the leadership and the quality of governance that is offered to the citizens. More than ever before, the government must focus on making life more meaningful for Nigerians. We can’t afford to continue to lose our best to the horrific death most illegal migration has become. We need our best and brightest here to have a fair chance of competing in the global market space.