Guest Columnist

‘We Sold Ourselves into Slavery, Blame Nobody’, By Michael West

Michael West
Michael West

Space constraint did not permit me to cover all I have outlined for last week’s topic but the core issues of facilitators and operators of the illicit business (compromised parents and slave labour agents/scouts) were fairly treated.

Government’s expected roles were also highlighted in part. It is government’s line of responsibility to provide enabling environment that would encourage Nigerians to pursue their legitimate businesses and aspirations. It is not possible for government to provide job for everybody but if stimuli are provided to grow local production and cut down on capital flights by limiting imports only to essential items, things will look up brightly for small and medium scale entrepreneurs to create jobs and more Nigerians would stay back home and make a living. The multiplier effect is that naira will appreciate better against its steady devalued worth. Government must track, arrest and prosecute the syndicate and their accomplices as a feasible way to reduce the illicit trade to the barest minimum.

Since last weekend, more reactions have been streaming in from those who shared their experiences in the near-death captivity they unknowingly walked into. Their stories resonate and typify the gory tales that often characterise the experiences of the victims. Being involved in the craze for seeking greener pastures outside the country, one of the callers narrated her ordeals in UAE. An e-mail sender who preferred to be anonymous also shared his experience. According to him, his contribution is to further “illuminate the minds of gullible Nigerians” who are still being tricked, hoodwinked and scammed into slavery and endless exploitation.

The excerpts:

“Many of us left the shores of Nigeria highly optimistic of better and easier opportunities to make money and live in saner climes. More importantly, exchange rate is favourable to foreign currencies against our weak naira. Many of us did the unthinkable to jet out of Nigeria.

“Most of us scorned counsel that tended to discourage us from traveling out of the country. Even when some of our friends and relations overseas advised to the contrary, we see them as ‘enemies of progress’ who do not want us to be as successful as they are. I know a co-traveller who told me that his Prophet warned against his trip but he ignored the prophesy. It is unfortunate that he was deported at the point of entry on account of possessing fake travel documents. As we speak, he is trying to put the pieces together. He regretted his decision and wasted resources on the failed trip.

“Some of us were sold as slaves into unknown destinations in Libya, UAE and Arab countries. As at today, some Nigerians are still missing; they are either dead or lost in slavery forever. Meanwhile, the agents promised us heaven on earth, showing us addresses, photographs and salaries to earn if we are “lucky” to meet up with the conditions for the trip. That was how we ‘willingly’ walked into problems.

“Therefore, it is not right to hold government responsible for our misfortune. We should blame ourselves and trusted people who connived with the agents to deceive us into slavery. Did we consult the government before we leave? Yes, government should care for its citizens wherever they are especially in times of need; and to be honest, Nigerian government is really trying. Thanks immensely to Abike Dabiri-Erewa-led Diaspora commission for its rescue operations.”

A caller from Ibadan, Oyo State, said “I was lucky to return alive. Two of my co-sojourners died under harrowing conditions. One of the girls was serially raped by every male in the family where she worked as a domestic worker. Whenever she complained she will be whipped, leaving scars all over her body. Throughout the day she won’t be allowed to eat. The torture was too much for her that she fell sick often. When the woman I was allocated to started bringing men home to take turn on me for sexual pleasure, I resisted initially but she threatened me with a gun saying “I will kill you here and nobody will see your corpse. I have bought you as a slave. You belong to me dead or alive. So, behave yourself.” That was how I succumbed to her dictates until I was able to ‘steal’ my seized passport and ran away. Those agents are the real culprits. Some of them still advertise their services on radio stations and government is not doing anything to curb their nefarious activities.”

Some of us were sold as slaves into unknown destinations in Libya, UAE and Arab countries. As at today, some Nigerians are still missing; they are either dead or lost in slavery forever. We should blame ourselves and trusted people who connived with the agents to deceive us into slavery

A pharmacist sold everything he had in Nigeria including his house, pharmacy, cars, bank shares and left the country. He rebuffed those who advised that his business and property should remain while he could “try his luck” abroad. “The last time we spoke, he is driving a cab in his host country while lamenting his wrong decision,” a caller has said.

Another respondent stated: “I’m also a victim of self-inflicted disappointment by buying into the scam of “lucrative job opportunities” abroad. Frankly speaking, Nigeria could be frustrating to many people. To get life moving in Nigeria is hard and daunting. No jobs, feeding is becoming near impossible for many families. So, it is not entirely wrong to venture into foreign lands to scavenge for opportunities.

“Many of us got trapped because those who lured us into the slave trips are well known and trusted people. You are either introduced to an agent by your relations, friends and colleagues or you fall for cheap adverts by the agents that promise enticing job offers as if there are no jobless people in the country they promise to take you to. One will eventually regret the move because of the menial and dirty jobs under appalling working conditions you find yourself doing. I believe people should be liable to decisions they make. Nobody is forced to travel. Government should demonstrate the political will to arrest the illicit trade in the interest of our corporate and national image.”


From the Mailbox

Re: Slave Labour, Parents, Agents are Culpable

It’s really a pity. If our leaders can make our country as beautiful like other countries, nobody will go searching for greener pastures anywhere. Can you imagine still being jobless with a master’s degree? If I have any opportunity to leave this country I won’t hesitate but only ensure that it is through legal means to avoid these kind of sad tales. – Dale, P.  Abuja.

This modern day slavery must stop now. People should be contented with who they are at any point in time while striving through legitimate means for a better life. Greed should be eschewed in all of its ramifications. – Sylvanus, Lagos.

If the land of Nigeria was green or even greener (because Nigeria is indeed a country flowing with milk and honey) then most people would not have been easily lured into travelling abroad. All we need is a responsible government that will indeed have the love of the masses at heart. Could you believe that there is no state in Nigeria without at least a resource, be it mineral or otherwise? Imagine also the total number of young Nigerians employed by Expression hair industry at Agege, Lagos, if only Nigerian governments at all levels can establish one of such industries in every state with good pay, the reduction in the number of emigrants would be reduced to the barest minimum. Well done, dear Michael West. – Mrs. A. Bunmi, Lagos



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