Christian leaders and groups have expressed shock and dismay over the CNN report that showed people sold in slave markets in Libya over a week ago. The disturbing aspect also is that Nigerians Christian youths, predominantly from Edo State, south western region, have become victims in this tragic event in their desperation to seek a brighter future in Europe.
Global Christian News was in Edo, Tuesday 5th December, and spoke with families who claim that the desperate conditions; poverty and joblessness in Nigeria, caused by the corruption and lack of strategic plans for youths, makes them seek a better life in the West. “It is better to dye trying than to live in a country where politicians, especially our senators get nearly a million dollars in a month and a graduate cannot get a job offering a minimum wage of $50 a month.” A youth who simply wants to be called Joker Boy, said. “they boys see others who have been able to go to Europe send money to their families who build houses and have shelter and they want that by all means. They do not want to live and die as poor people.” He added.
Venerable Dalimore Odigie, a clergy in Ekpoma said, “many pastors like me are frustrated with the whole issue. Parents even encourage and raise the funds for their children to take the perilous journeys to Libya. Whatever you preach and teach or say, they only see Europe as the paradise. They think life is easy there. Many do not want to work hard and earn a living for themselves.” He said.
Global Christian News met with a youths who said, “those who have died in the attempt, at least do not have to live in this miserable country.” Effiong (not his real name) said in pidgin English, “the person that died, it was not his luck. My friend crossed over and he is making it there. Even if you sweep the street, you make money enough to take care of your sisters here.”
Venerable Odigie lamented the problems created by prosperity churches and ministries who, “make money from these poor uninformed people by setting up special prayers for them so that they will get to Europe safely. The families pay these charlatan ‘prayer ministers’ and churches.” He added.
The Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, has pleaded with the church to join the fight against human trafficking. Speaking on Thursday 7th December, during a meeting with religious leaders at the Government House in Benin City, the state capital, the governor said, “the government of Edo State has taken the fight against trafficking to the next level by involving senior members of the clergy of the Christian faith in our fight against the cartel.”
The Catholic Archbishop of Benin Diocese, Most Reverend Augustine Akubueze, in a comment to reporters, said, “We are all gathered here to help the governor tackle the scourge; the church has been doing a lot of work and advocacy in this direction to help the government tackle the scourge to a standstill.”
Bishop Oriname Kure, Chairman of the State’s Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) said, “Human trafficking has become a serious problem in the land and as such, all hands must be on deck to ensure that the evil scourge is defeated.” Adding that “the church, as well as the state and federal governments, are against it; even the Bible kicks against it.”
Reverend Ejike Emmanuel, who has worked in the communities to dissuade youths from taking the dangerous journeys said, “if they used all the money they gather to pay for the trip, they probably will be able to start a small business venture. But because they have been given a false picture of Europe as if you pic money on the streets, they are all desperate to go there. Most of them are uneducated, you wonder what they can do there. Anyone who cannot succeed in Nigeria will not succeed there I believe.” Ejike said.
Hassan John is West Africa Editor, GCN and Priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos