Nigeria News

NIGERIA: Resurgence of child trafficking in Akwa Ibom State

“A’Ibom police nab prophetess for operating baby factory.” PUNCH February 26, 2014, p 4.
“What does corrupting time not diminish..” Horace 65-8 BC. (VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS p 247).
At least two people, one alive and one departed, must be shaking their heads, with sadness and disbelief, when reading that story about Akwa Ibom. This was one tragedy they struggled for eight years to bring to an end in the state. And they largely succeeded such that by 2007, Akwa Ibom state was rid of child traffickers and baby factories. Now, it appears as if the progress made by 2007 had been dissipated in another eight years. The most important question which should bother all of us is: if the progress which we see daily advertised about the state is real, why are people still engaged in this trade/ why are kids still being treated worse than slaves? It was not always like this; not in 2007.
“Akwa Ibom State is the nation’s largest supplier of houseboys and cooks”, lamented newly elected Governor Victor B Attah of Akwa Ibom State in 1999. And he was determined to bring an end to that atrocity. For that reason, his first executive measure was to pronounce free primary education throughout the state, with immediate effect, and he followed that by paying for WAEC examination fees for School Certificate candidates and later extended the free education to JSS3. The goal was to snatch back, from wicked men and women, the kids who were being voluntarily or forcefully trafficked out of the state to serve as servants and cooks (the lucky ones) and prostitutes or hatcheries for babies (the real tragedies).
But, the enormity of the task of governing the state; the challenges posed by the fact that the state was almost totally cut off from the nation’s communications network, poor access roads; dilapidated schools and hospitals, etc made it impossible for the former Governor to pay attention to the sources of supply, within the state, of these unfortunate kids.
Fortunately for Akwa Ibom State, the kids and Nigeria, there was Nneyin Alison Attah, the wife of the Governor, a First Lady with a heart full of love for kids who undertook the challenge of locating all the Motherless Babies Homes and Charities – most of which proved to be fronts for child and women traffickers. She got them registered, monitored and supervised by the Ministry of Women Affairs and by 2007 had driven the criminals operating Baby factories out of the state.
Incredibly, she did most of the work with her own money because her father was one the largest exporters of sugar in Barbados. Most of the girls and children rescued during those eight years were either re-united with their parents, or, were placed in State supervised Children’s homes when no parents came forward to claim them. Thus for eight years the young girls and children of Akwa Ibom State had a champion fighting on their side.
The question now is: did it all end in 2007? Are criminals now allowed to operate undeterred in the state? Are the kids of AKS, once again, unsafe from kidnappers and those wanting to make blood money?
Irrespective of any agreement you might have had with the PDP governors who imposed you on the party after exracting from you a promise not to interfere in the activities of the party at state level, please be very careful with respect to Akwa Ibom State. The same might apply to other states where an ethnic group has an absolute majority of the population; while the governor is from a minority ethnic group.
The large ethnic groups, in each state, who had embraced the principle of zoning in 2007, and had conceded power to governors from smaller ethnic groups, have largely regretted their “generosity”. Most have now taken the same position as Igalas in Kogi State where anybody else can be the Deputy Governor (or Spare tyre); but, the Governor will always be an Igala person. It is as simple as that and nothing will alter the situation in 2015.
The Ibibios had been out of the State House for eight years. They are not prepared to remain out for another eight years. Those who will first suffer the lash of Ibibio anger are the people of the Oron nation. They had expected that after the Anangs were allowed to rule, the baton of governor’s office will be passed to them based on the zoning agreement in 2007. With any luck, they will be considered in 2023.
I don’t need to tell you that with the Ibibios constituting over sixty per cent of the population and wanting to decide for themselves, no governor from a minority ethnic group will sway them. Most of them and the leading candidates are solidly loyal to PDP. And, they will readily vote for PDP in all elections in 2015 – provided the candidates are those freely chosen by them. Without that, you might as well chalk up Akwa Ibom as an APC State in 2015. So firmly has the battle line been drawn.
The choice is yours and that of President Jonathan.
0817-988-7996 Sorry for deviating Sir. I’m a graduate of Civil Engineering. Please I am looking for an experienced Civil Engineer whom I can undergo Pupillage with. I don’t know whether you can publish my request on your column or you can introduce me to a Civil Engineer.  Chidozie Eze. Gwagwalada, FCT.
I shall pass this world but once. If therefore there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do, let me do it now…Etienne De Grellet, 1773-1855.
Chidozie, here is your request. I feel honoured to be called upon to help you. God will help you more in your career as an Engineer.
Surely there must be a construction company or Civil Engineering outfit willing to help Chidozie Eze. Please, do it now. God bless.

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