Category Archives: Nigeria

Sex Trafficking in Nigeria

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Two months ago, I had a chat with a man in my work place who is from Benin city, the capital of ancient Benin empire. He explained how it is a thing of pride among his people to travel out of the country, even without legal papers. He had gone on such a trip about 12 years ago with the aid of agents who helped illegal migrants travel to Spain through Morocco. Eventually, he was deported by the Spanish authorities 3 months after his arrival there. His experience made me to begin to make further enquiries about the veracity of his claims about Benin folks.

As a boy, when I was in secondary school I recall first learning about the Benin Empire from my Fine Arts teacher when she taught us about their ancient art. The Benin bronzes, when they were discovered by the Europeans in the pre-colonial days , made a great impression on the foreigners that Africans had such sophisticated artistic skills. I further learned about the kingdom when we were taught that one of the sons of Oduduwa (progenitor of the Yorubas and the founder of Ile-Ife, which later became the Oyo empire) ruled as king of the Benin empire. The Benin people were so powerful and the kingdom rose to prominence among West African kingdoms before colonialism under the British. All of that is history because things have taken a different twist.

In modern times, the city has earned a different reputation than power or prosperity. The BBC reported that Benin (not the similarly named West African country) is one of the main sources of West African girls and women trafficked into prostitution in Europe (largely Italy and the UK). Unfortunately, so many naive girls and their families are deceived by promises of education and good jobs abroad. While many girls die along the land route, the lucky ones who arrive there alive work as slaves for their traffickers in exchange for the ‘favor’ of being brought to Europe. It’s sickening to learn of such a high volume of trade in human lives. However, this human trafficking business isn’t restricted to Nigeria but is a global phenomenon. Indeed our country is favorably ranked amongst nations fighting this unethical source of billions of dollars.

As a way to further curb this sale of human lives, our government can do better. The Edo state government needs to urgently arise to fight this organized unethical network of modern day slavery thriving under its watch. We have heard of the Mexican drug war, an indication that the Mexican government is making concerted efforts to stop drug cartels. On the other hand, we’re yet to hear of a Nigerian human trafficking war. Maybe it’s not yet necessary because the magnitude hasn’t yet reached alarming levels. Nevertheless, this year’s World Day against Trafficking in Persons is an opportunity to remind stakeholders that drastic action need be taken in local cities that emerge on human abuse watch lists.

(c) Leke Babayomi, 2015

Interview with a Deported Migrant

Nigeria is such a blessed country, having an amazing diversity of culture, tribes, languages, people etc. I had always been aware of some striking facts about the three major tribes. For example, historically, the Hausa-Fulanis, who are the largest tribe, are the most experienced at national leadership. The Yorubas who rank second highest in population are well-known for their emphasis on and the priority given to education. It’s therefore not surprising that they have the best developed infrastructure of the top three. The Igbos, who are next in demographic dominance, are the most industrious and widespread around the country and around the world. As a Nigerian who has traveled to more than 20 out of the 36 states in the country, I can testify to the richness of our diversity.

During the day, I had a discussion, with someone I’d call Richard that revealed more about the country. He works as a security personnel at the organization where I am also employed. This interview is about the Benin people whose home is in Edo state, southwestern Nigeria.

Richard: I grew up in Benin, Edo state and it a thing of pride among us when you say you have traveled overseas. The passion we have for traveling is such that if a Benin guy is given a visa to live in Europe a few weeks before completing his PhD dissertation, he might prefer to drop out of the PhD program in his excitement to take advantage of the new opportunity. About 12 years ago, I traveled to Spain through Morocco. It was a very risky journey and many people died on the way. The deaths were not only due to sickness or the severity of environmental conditions. They were sometimes due to fellow migrants taking advantage of weaker ones. Sometimes, after some migrants ran out of personal supplies, they attacked others, who were better equipped, to steal their money and food.
VOL: How long did you spend in Spain?
Richard: About 3 months.
VOL: Why did you come back so quickly?
Richard:We were caught and deported.
VOL: So what did you do for a living while you were in Spain?
Richard: Nothing at all. We spent all the time hiding from the police. After we were brought back, I was determined to return shortly. However, I had seen some people die in the process of hustling who left nothing behind as a legacy. So I decided to get married and have, at least, a child before returning. I thought that in case things don’t go as planned, I will have raised a family.
VOL: It appears that you never went back.
Richard: My wife prevailed on me to not leave her and the kids alone; so I never went back.

Therefore, we may be safe to say that the Benin people have an unusual passion for international travel and could risk their lives to satisfy this craving. Who knows whether some of them are among the many who die on migrant boats on the Mediterranean? It’s time for the new government leaders to be led by General Buhari who will be sworn in later today to make the country conducive for all categories of people to be guaranteed an economic future. This way, the loss of lives in the search for better prospects overseas will be significantly minimized.

7 Lessons from #Nigeriadecides

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  1. When you get an outstanding opportunity that you did not deserve or work for, grow fast in it so that your feet can fit the new shoes. Else your naivety will make people lose confidence in you and may lead to your downfall.
  2. The people you lead are not blind and they are not fools. Stop telling them lies! Quit hoodwinking them!
  3. When you surround yourself with sycophants and only Yes-men, you are on a fast-track to destruction. There is usually an element of truth in what your critics are saying. Discard criticism totally, then you are looking for trouble.
  4. Don’t bite the fingers that fed you. Honour those who helped you to the top. Even if you do not see eye to eye on every issue, don’t think that you can suddenly grow wings and fly off without them.
  5. The Most High rules in the affairs of men. Nobody knows tomorrow. When bros Jona was persecuting SLS for whistle-blowing, he never knew that he was blowing away his votes from Kano and other northern states.
  6. Put your family in order now, else when you get to a place of visibility, your family secrets could lead to open ridicule. One comedian mimicked lady P by saying, “When pikin fail, he must repeat the class.” Unfortunately, bros Jona never got a second chance to repeat the class.
  7. It is more honourable to admit defeat like bros J than to be uprooted from the seat of power (that you insist you will never leave) like Gbagbo.

Congratulations Nigeria!

Leke Babayomi blogs at lekebabayomi.wordpress.com

Follow him on twitter @lekebabayomi

Brace yourself to purchase a copy of his soon-to-be-released book: “The Silent Killer.”