A lot of people blame the Nigerians who try to cross the Mediterranean into Spain or Italy. Without trying to joke, this has become a serious cause for concern among well meaning Nigerians who are daily alarmed by the woeful tales that come from these adventures.
From trekking through forests to crossing the moody sea is a whole lot of risk. I recently watched a video where someone in Canada was cursing Nigeria for her inability to get passport. The terrible journey these young men and women undertake is for a reason. It is caused by something much more terrible. I would try to point them out as quickly as possible.
One, Nigeria is a country where the only industry that functions properly is corruption and nepotism. It is this country that jobs are sold and merit is pushed to the background. It means nothing to the Nigerian society whether you have a first class or a zero class. As long as you are not riding on the back of some influential uncle or have a lot of connection, forget it. No job for you. This phenomenon has left a lot of youths stranded and frustrated. They seek a way out to survive.
Youths are the leaders of tomorrow, they say. The elders have occupied everywhere and not leaving until they fix in their own children. We sing of youths going into agriculture, and I ask with what implements? Are the youths going to survive on subsistence agriculture as their grandparents did? No plan is in place to integrate the youths into government. There is absolutely no hope in the country.
Where is the deliberate policy of government to create jobs for the teeming youths>? Some months ago there were secret employment into the Federal Inland Revenue Service, NNPC, Central Bank of Nigeria etc, and it was just meant for the children of the children of the rich and powerful. An average Nigerian youth does not have a job, and he has relatives who think that he is already in the city, so he must provide. The youth is under pressure from family and society. He is psychologically defeated, he is debased in his own country. The police do not respect him because he drives no car or wears good clothes. His family sees him as a loafer. He needs to redeem himself, and he gathers money to go to the immigration to obtain a passport. He ends up frustrated again. They ask for bribes.
He gets a girlfriend who is equally under pressure from family, he gets the more depressed by the girl’s constant nagging and abuse. In all of these, he thinks of running away. It is so bad that if a ship were to berth on the Nigerian shores today and it was boldly written SLAVE SHIP on it, Nigerians would jump into it just to get out of here.
Our government is not concerned. Over time, they have neglected the opinion of the youths. It is all about them and their ambitions. Several vices are taking over this country without the government doing a thing about it. What is important to them is to equip the police and use them to terrorise the youth.
Until we address the issue of poverty, nepotism and corruption in this country, youths would continue to be prostitutes, thieves, illegal immigrants and possibly Libyan slaves. They will leave in droves. But what is scarier is the time bomb that the army of frustrated, jobless and depressed youths are becoming. It is a dangerous omen for this country. When it happens it would consume the entire country, rich, poor, small, big, armed, unarmed and all. This is a wake up call.
~ Alex Agbo
Economist and Public Policy Analyst.