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Curbing Irregular Migration, Sex Slavery In Africa

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Data made available by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), showed that   between January and May last year, 29,000 people of sub-Saharan African origin went to Europe through the Central Mediterranean route, mainly   in search of greener pastures.
Unfortunately, their fate is uncertain, as they may end up as sex slaves, victims of organ theft, among others. Most of the irregular migrants were not aware of dangers ahead.
Aside those who ‘successfully’ made it, over 761 others died in the quest to cross, about 13,000 were pushed back by the Libyan Coast Guard, while thousands of others are languishing in detention facilities.
However, the tale is not only bleak in Europe, irregular migrants within Africa also suffer similar fate of forced labour and sex slavery.
According to a 2018 report by the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), there were over 20,000 Nigerian girls working as sex slaves in Mali.
According to Chief of Mission, IOM Nigeria, Frantz Celestin, Imigration to Europe is mostly captured in the media space whereas a higher number of migrants remain within Africa.
“Most people look at the media report of migrants trying to get across to Europe, but the fact is that the vast majority of migrants who decide to move from one place of habitual residence, they decide to do so within the African continent.
“In fact, less than five per cent of those on the move go to Europe, the vast majority of them stay within the continent.
“If you look at ECOWAS citizens, more than 90 per cent of them stay within the ECOWAS space.
“Giving the number of people on the move and knowing how vulnerable people tend to be if they are migrating irregularly, the chances of them being trafficked or abused during their journey is quite high.
“So, if so many people are moving within the ECOWAS space, it is safe to conclude that a lot of them are being trafficked with in the ECOWAS space,” he said.
He said that from the study which had been carried out by the IOM, Mali remained top of the list of locations for Nigerian girls trafficked within Africa.
“If we know all of these and if ECOWAS tends to reason that there might be a lot of women trafficked within its space, what do we do?
“It is to make sure we understand the pattern, look at the trends, see where they are going – and Mali has quite a number of young Nigerian women as sex workers in the Gold Mine District.
“So if I were to say, given the numbers that we have seen, Mali is the number one destination in West Africa for Nigerian women who were trafficked.
“But there are trafficking going on throughout the ECOWAS space.’’
Celestin, who interacted with the media recently to advance the activities of the UN agency, pointed out that a sizeable number of the 29,000 persons who made it to Europe were Nigerians.
The IOM chief, who did not give specific figures pointed out that in spite of its campaign and sensitisation across Nigeria, many still opt to move as they are driven by many factors that must be addressed.
Celestin said that “the drivers could be conflict, social-economic pressures, population pressures, it could be disasters, climate induced phenomenon and we have seen quite a number of them with the severity and frequency going up and up.
“There are a lot of push factors out there and we only see that they are increasing.
“So how do we step forward to mitigate the number of people migrating as well as the level of suffering we see in that process.?
“It is not going to stop unless the drivers are removed or mitigated, and these drivers are hardship, conflict, disasters and the fact that we have more people looking for work and a lot of people underemployed.
“So the combination of unemployment and under employment will definitely push people forward.
“You can tell them as much as you want, but if you don’t find something to keep them in place, they will migrate.
“All of the work that we do is to prevent, reduce and address the drivers of migration,” he said.
Celestin however clarified that the work of IOM was not to discourage migration, as he insists that it is necessary for migration to take place, stressing that the import was for migration to be done the right way.
It is perhaps in its bid to drive home the message of migration across Nigeria that the IOM had continually sought partnerships with the Nigerian media.
At one of such dialogues held recently in Abuja, Celestin appealed to the media, as indispensable partners to help in getting the right message of migration across Nigeria.
“IOM would like to use this dialogue to facilitate your direct involvement in the dissemination of credible information on migration in support of its efforts to ensure orderly, dignified, and safe migration.
“Maintaining good media relation is indispensable and contributes to IOM’s daily work.
“IOM will continue to work with you to shed light on the plight of the people, and the often-hidden opportunities that arise from migration.
“Governments, migrants, potential migrants, and average citizens are much more likely to hear about IOM’s work through the media than through official reports.
“The role of media in achieving IOM’s objectives is crucial. Hence, the need for information flow built on cordial relationship between media outlets and IOM Nigeria.
“IOM is committed to working with journalists who will act as conduits of the organisation’s message,” he said.
Stakeholders believe that the ultimate solution to irregular migration lies in mitigating the drivers of migration, which will in turn mitigate trafficking, sex slavery, organ theft, among others.
Celestin believes that the $150 billion trafficking industry which has been identified to have high yields and low risks to the perpetrators, can only end with concerted efforts.
With specific reference to Africa, he said: “What is required is a coordinated response by all the member states and what we would call proper guidance by ECOWAS to effectively identify these networks and disrupt their criminal activity.
“What we are going to do is to systematically create bilateral relationships with these governments.
Not long ago, IOM Nigeria and IOM Niger had a 10-day conference where we were with NAPTIP and immigration officials from Nigeria and their counterpart in Niger.
“We brought them together to get these two agencies, Nigeria Immigration Service on the border part controlling who is going and then NAPTIP and their counterpart in Niger to coordinate and share information to disrupt these networks that are putting people in bondage and selling them as cattle and abusing them.
“So coordinated efforts, bilateral relationship and sharing of information are extremely important in stemming the flow of people and preventing these criminals from using people as commodity.
“No agency, no country, no one person can do it by him or herself, it requires a whole lot of society approach, a coordinated approach and putting the necessary mechanism in place to get this done.
“IOM is a solid partner; we offer our support to our member states, to the governments and support direct assistance to those who have been victimised by these criminals,” he said.
Indeed, it remains an arduous task to convince people to stay back in their home countries rather that migrate irregularly, especially when hunger, unemployment and insecurity continue unabated.
It is thus a clarion call for governments, particularly in Africa, to live up to their responsibilities, take advantage of their human and material resources and harness such for the betterment of their people.
In the words of an economist, Amarachukwu Nwosu, “Africa has more than the potential needed to be better than Europe and America. That potential should be harnessed.

By: Ifeanyi Nwoko
Nwoko writes for News Agency of Nigeria.

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Campaigns Won’t Distract Us From Governance, Wike Vows

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Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has declared that his administration would remain focused on governance despite the ongoing intensified political campaigns.
Wike gave the assurance at the flag-off of civil works on 17 internal roads within Rumuigbo community in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, performed by former Minister of Agriculture, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, yesterday.
The governor remarked that his social contract with Rivers people, who gave him their mandate, demanded that he remained committed to serve them till the last day of his administration.
Wike assured that he would continue to make Rivers people happy and deliver quality infrastructure until May 29, 2023.
“We believe that political party is a vehicle that conveys you to where you want to go. Having conveyed you to where you are heading to, you come down and begin to do governance.
“We just invited you (Lokpobiri) to come down and see what we are doing in the state.
“So many people are distracted by campaign. We are not going to be distracted by campaign. We want to focus on the development of our community. I will work until May 29, 2023, because that is the day my agreement will terminate with the people of Rivers State.”
Dismissing comments by critics that Rumuigbo community has never benefitted from his administration, Wike reminded them of the reconstruction work carried out on the Omoi-Orosi road handled by Julius Berger Nigeria Plc with the effective drains channelled through Okocha Street to the nearby stream.
According to Wike, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc was also contracted to handle the Obi Wali Road, saying that perennial flooding was still experienced in the area.
To solve the perennial flood experienced around the Obi Wali Road axis, Wike pointed to a particular land that was considered to be suitable to channel the flash water, and assured that the Rivers State Government would acquire the land for that purpose.
“We have said severally, and many people have made one or two comments that: what has Rumuigbo benefited from this government?
“We have always told people, yes, our tenure will expire on May 29, 2023, but all the communities that are within our jurisdiction; we will do all we can to make sure we bring development to the area.
“But let it be on record, since I came, this community has produced two commissioners in Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RISIEC); Prof. Reginald Amadi, and Dr.IhuomaChuku.
“You have also produced Dr.Kinikanwo Green, who has been chairman of the Rivers State Primary Healthcare Board. So, in terms of appointment, it will be difficult for anybody to say you have not gotten anything.”
Wike also donated N200million for the rebuilding of the palace of the EzeApara in the area.
Performing the flag-off, former Minister of Agriculture, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri,explained that he had, within the last three days, accompanied Wike to flag-off strategic road projects in addition to the one he was flagging off.
These and many other projects, Lokpobiri noted,were what had marked Wike as the king of infrastructure delivery, which was an unprecedented approach to governance in Nigeria.
Such strides, Lokpobiri remarked, were evidence of the unlimited love Wike had for Rivers people, adding that he was also a direct beneficiary because he lives in Port Harcourt.
Lokpobiri thanked Wike for his singular contributions towards the promotion of the legal profession in Nigeria.
It is not only for building the best Law School Campus in Port Harcourt, he asserted, but also for improving the facilities at the South-South Law School Campus in Yenagoa.
In his remarks, Rivers State Commissioner for Works, Dr.DakorinimaAlaboGeorge-Kelly, provided the description of the project, and said there were a total of 17 streets that make up the Rumuigbo internal roads.
In all, he explained that the roads measure a total of 8.3kilometre-long, 6meters in width, had drains on both sides of the same size of 600millimeters by 600millimeters cross-sectionally, with 150millimeter-wall thickness and 150millimeter-base concrete.
George-Kelly said the project has been scheduled for completion within six months, adding that the contractor had been mobilised about four weeks ago.

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Reps Order CBN To Suspend Cash Withdrawal Policy …Summon Emefiele

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Angry with the N100,000 weekly cash withdrawal limits set by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), last Tuesday, and its attendant economic and social challenges, the House of Representatives at yesterday’s plenary asked the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, to suspend implementation of the policy.
Emefiele was asked to cause an appearance, Thursday next week to explain to the House on the impact and significance of the new policy.
The suspension is to last pending the outcome of the expected engagement with the House on the compliance with the relevant sections of the CBN act and the 1999 Constitution on the monetary policies of the apex bank.
The resolution was sequel to a motion under matters of urgent public importance moved by Hon. Magaji Dau Aliyu.
Apart from the Minority Leader, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, who supported the CBN policy in that it would curb banditry and reduce the incidence of corruption, many other lawmakers who spoke, vehemently condemned the decision of the CBN.
The opposition may eventually signpost a directive by the House by a way of resolution to drop the policy after the Wednesday meeting.
Midway into the proceedings, Hon. Mark Gbillah, raised a point of order, citing relevant sections of the CBN act and the 1999 Constitution, reminding the House that the CBN governor ought to be giving periodic briefings on monetary policies of the apex bank to the National Assembly.
He noted that the CBN was yet to explain to Nigerians how the redesigning of the Naira was funded, stressing that there was no approval of such expenditures by the National Assembly.
To that end, the Speaker, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, who felt convinced after confirming from some members of the relevant committees of the House on the absence of Emefiele for the briefings, relied on the sections of the laws so quoted to sustain the point of order.
He eventually heeded to the prayer of the substantive motion and ruled that Emefiele be summoned to brief the House next week.

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Okonjo-Iweala Emerges ALM’s Best African Female Leader

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The United Kingdom-based African Leadership Magazine (ALM) has named the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr NgoziOkonjo-Iweala, as “African Female Leader of the Year”.
According to a statement by ALM, the category was part of the “11th African leadership persons of the year award – 2022”.
Also, the President of Sierra Leone, Dr Julius Maada Bio, won the African of the Year while his Zambian Counterpart, President HakaindeHichilema won the Political Leader of the Year.
The trio were declared the winners in the 11th African Leadership Magazine Persons of the Year – 2022.
The African leadership person of the year awards are decided with votes and billed annually for leading Africans contributing immensely to the development of the Dark Continent.
The annual award event is also a platform for honouring people-centred leadership and Africans pursuing a pan-African agenda in their chosen fields of endeavour.
According to the statement, Okonjo-Iweala polled over 60per cent of the over 15,000 votes in the category at the close of the poll on December 2, 2022.
The Chairman of the awards, Ken Giami said the nominees see advancement where others see regression, and bring out possibilities in the midst of challenges.
“They are on a mission and are eager to lead Africa to the Promised Land,” Giami said.
Winners for the 11th edition of the award shall be presented with the honour on February 16, 2023, at a ceremony scheduled to hold in Port Louis, Mauritius.

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