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Nigeria: Reawakening Africa Consciousness On Immigrants

By Ajibola Abayomi,

June 15, 2019.

Migration according to vocabulary.com is the movement of either people or animals from one area to another.

Globally, movement of people from one boarder to the other remains a critical aspect of survival chain. Either for economic reason, resettlement, or escape from conflict zones, people have been moving from centuries.

With the growing concern, African nations must redefine the focus of their impacts on lives of their citizens with negative effects of migration occasioned by bad governance.

Immigrants arriving a sea shoreAcross the length and breadth of Europe, Africans especially Nigerians top the list of illegal migrants forced to abandon their place of birth in search greener pastures owing to self-induced poverty by leaders in many instances.

According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), an estimated 362,000 refugees and migrants risked their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea in 2016, with 181,400 people arriving in Italy and 173,450 in Greece.

In the first half of 2017, over 105,000 refugees and migrants entered Europe. Of these lots, Africans were part of the immigrants in large numbers.

This movement towards Europe continues take a devastating toll on human life.

Since the beginning of 2017, over 2,700 people are believed to have died or gone missing while crossing the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe, with reports of many others perishing en route.

These risks do not end once in Europe. Those moving onwards irregularly have reported numerous types of abuses that include rape, killings, slavery among others apart from being pushed back across borders.

Sadly, many Nigerians mostly are regular risk-travelers en-route the desert in Niger, Algeria, Morocco and Libya with hope of going through the Mediterranean Sea to connect Europe.

Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), reports that since April 2017 alone,  11,833 Nigerians have been brought back through the Assisted Voluntary Return Programme from Libya while a total of 4,123 Nigerians have also returned from same country between January 6 and December 18, 2018.

Notwithstanding, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the European Union (EU)  facilitation of the return of Nigerians stranded in the volatile North African country, it is on record that over 15,000 Africans are in different slave camps in Libya till date.

With so many lives at risk, rescue-at-sea operations undertaken by all actors, must migration remain a priority and a must among Nigerians and other Africans?

On the other hand, why would that option not be taken? When corruption persists at different level of government and abject poverty becomes the common dividend of democracy in Africa especially now that Nigeria even ranks among top world hungry nations.

Over three third of African migrants if the atmosphere was comfortable would have preferred to stay back home to make a living.

But how would that be in a nation like Nigeria when the situation is pathetic.

On the 2018 Global Hunger Index, Nigeria ranked 103rd out of 119 qualifying countries.

With a score of 31.1, the nation suffers from a level of hunger that was serious.

No wonder Nigerians are regular callers at dangerous routes to earn a living.

While the root cause of rampant illegal migration by many Africans was fuelled by bad governance and lack of enough opportunities for the people, time is running out on leaders on the continent to have a rethink and to develop their respective teaming gifted population.

Not only government, all hands must be on deck to limit the constant migration of Africans to other continents.

The media and other institutions must come to the rescue.

Last year at a 3-day workshop titled Media and Migration: Training for Journalists and Journalism Educators facilitated by four organizations namely Journalists in a Global Contest (JiGC), Eric-Brost-Institute, African Media Initiatives (ami) and Africa Positive in conjunction with the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Lagos State Council, the  media was put to task.

The Nigerian media was urged to take leadership of communication on the continent by reflecting views of other African countries, being the voice of the most populated black nation in the word.

Trainers at the workshop Veye Tatal from JiGC,  Eric Chinve, Senior Adviser African Media Initiative, Dr Michael Serworynoo from Ghana, former Academic Director, Department of Computer Science Technical University of Dortmund, Mr Hans Decker and Dr Etienne Fopa Sime from Cameroon advocated re-dedication to pan African stories.

The trainers admonished journalists drawn from different media outfits to reshape issues of development on the continent by disabusing the minds of Africans from risking their lives through dangerous routes to Europe under the guise of seeking greener pastures.

“Nigeria has the capacity to harness Africa potentials for greatness. I am saying you people can do it, so lead and let others follow. The courage to tell Africa story can start from one determined journalist here and then one or two persons can follow, and they will become unstoppable on any focus that can drive development.

“As journalists, we must be concerned about reporting those things that will make Africa live-able for our people. A lot of stories on potentials of Africa are under reported. Foreign media cannot do that for us because they prefer to portray us in negative light.

“Migration is a topical discuss today across the globe and we must do all we can to encourage our people to invest and live happily in Africa” said Eric.

Serworynoo counselled Journalists to refrain from using gory pictures and derogative languages to portray migrants and Africa.

“Government and leaders in Africa starting from Nigeria must be engaged on development model that is beneficiary to our people by encouraging them to add value to our resources.

“Rushing to live in abroad is not the solution. Facts about migration need to be put on table so that our people will not continue to jump at travelling to Europe out of ignorance” he said.

Both Veye and Dr Sime also advised the participants to form media network to promote African initiatives towards sustaining economic growth and stability.

 

 

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