• Monday, May 27, 2024
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Crucial need for a viable economic environment for Nigerian youths

Crucial need for a viable economic environment for Nigerian youths

The desperation of many Nigerians youths to jump ship and seek greener pastures is becoming more alarming. Old and young, educated and non-educated, many want to abandon the country as they consider economic opportunities increasingly difficult to come by.
International media reports last week revealed that 26 dead Nigerian women were aboard a Spanish warship, which also had 375 other migrants following several rescues. Italian prosecutors are said to be suspicious that they may have been sexually abused and murdered as they attempted to cross the Mediterranean.

Most of the “dead women” are said to be aged 14 – 18, implying these were girls, barely maturing into adulthood but were for some reason, desperate enough to embark on the perilous journey across the Mediterranean Sea. Before this, they most likely would have had to navigate the trans-Saharan journey through Libya, where tales of horror have been told in recent times as Africans desperately try to cross into Europe.
Most of the 375 survivors that were brought to Salerno in Italy were sub-Saharan Africans, from Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana, The Gambia and Sudan. Among them were 90 women – eight of them pregnant – and 52 children.’

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Ironically, embarking on this journey is not cheap. According to the Italian aid group L’Abbraccio, people-smuggling gangs charge each migrant about $6,000 (N2.16 million) to get to Italy, $4,000 of which is for the trans-Saharan journey to Libya.
With a minimum wage of N18,000, it will take 10 years to save up N2.16 million. Certainly, members of the elite class are not the ones embarking on these perilous journeys in search of a better life. These are mostly “regular (downtrodden) Nigerians” who out of hopelessness, erroneously think the rewards will be worth the risk.

Many migrants have reported violence, including torture and sexual abuse, by the gangs that traffic them to Europe. Still, desperate young Nigerians keep risking their lives to escape to “the better life in Europe”.
While many are driven by greed and the false allure of a readymade good life, waiting for them as soon as they can cross out of Nigeria to Europe, we want the government to see the deaths of these young ladies as a call to action. The aspirations of the many talented, promising young Nigerians must not be allowed to die off because government is bereft of ideas on how to engage them productively.

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Illegal migration must not only be discouraged, but alternatives must be made available for Nigerians to be productively engaged when they stay back in the country. N2.16 million is quite a substantial amount of money, and if people were sure that this could have been invested with little or no encumbrances, then perhaps, they would have one less reason to seek “greener pastures”. The country is tough, and daily living is very difficult. Policymakers (in Government) need to stop living in a bubble; believing that life for the ordinary Nigerian is in any way comparable to their own standard of living. It is time to make Nigeria truly habitable for all Nigerian.

We want the government to as a matter of urgency; develop strategic policies that will incentivise young Nigerians to start-up businesses in different sectors of the economy. Young people should benefit from special incentives that will see them engaging in commerce in the event this is their preferred alternative to further, formal education. For thousands of young Nigerians who graduate from tertiary institutions every year, without any meaningful source of livelihood afterwards, the temptation to risk their lives and resources to illegally travel abroad must be curbed.