In his second term and indeed final tenure of office as the civilian president of the world’s largest black nation known as Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, a retired infantry general and a veteran of two wars (civil war and war against Maitasine Islamists from Cameroun), made a great choice of who should head the rapidly deteriorating National Drugs law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) with his appointment of the erstwhile military Administrator of Lagos State Major General Buba Marwa (rtd).
The previous holder of that position picked by President Buhari in 2015 almost succeeded in destroying what was left of that anti-hard drugs fighting institution. NDLEA used to be effective when IGPs Fulani Kwajafa and Ogbonnaya Onovo headed it at different times. But it later became a nest of crooks. The last person to occupy the position, although not a crook but throughout his tenure there was a lack of accountability to Nigerians.
Having said that, let me quickly warn that the current Chairman of the NDLEA who has a military background and was loved by the Lagos/Ibadan media for being media savvy needs to know that his position is not a media popularity contest, but his achievements would be assessed based on empirical evidence of successful arrests, prosecution, conviction and the institutionalization of a law-based mechanism that is characterized by transparency and accountability.
So his success or failure will not be benchmarked by how many of these media trials he authorizes his officers to conduct each time a suspect is arrested. Marwa should read section 36 (5) of the 1999 constitution and section 6 of the same Grund Norm.
These constitutional provisions state as follows: section 36 (5) “Every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until he is proved guilty; provided that nothing in this section shall invalidate any law by reason only that the law imposes upon any such person the burden of proving particular facts.
Section (6) The judicial powers vested in accordance with the foregoing provisions of this section – (a) shall extend, notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this constitution, to all inherent powers and sanctions of a court of law (b) shall extend, to all matters between persons, or between government or authority and to any persons in Nigeria, and to all actions and proceedings relating thereto, for the determination of any question as to the civil rights and obligations of that person; (c) shall not except as otherwise provided by this Constitution, extend to any issue or question as to whether any act of omission by any authority or person or as to whether any law or any judicial decision is in conformity with the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy set out in Chapter II of this Constitution; (d) shall not, as from the date when this section comes into force, extend to any action or proceedings relating to any existing law made on or after 15th January, 1966 for determining any issue or question as to the competence of any authority or person to make any such law. Section 6 is basically about the judicial powers of the Federation domiciled in the courts of law and not court of public opinion or gossip newspapers.
Coming back to the theme of this commentary, I must state that the report in the media crediting the president as stating that drug war is much more complex than war on terror is semantically, logically and existentially accurate. Mr. President has never been this philosophically deep. Perhaps the writer of that speech must have been in a very sober mood.
And so, on June 26th 2021, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari identified drug trafficking and abuse as more threatening to the stability of the nation than banditry and insurgency that are prevalent in some parts of Nigeria.
The president declared that drug abuse had become so endemic in the country now that it already stretches across three generations of grandparents, parents and their wards.
This is just as the media reported that the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has disclosed that within the last five months, no fewer than 2,180 suspected traffickers including five drug barons had been nabbed across the country.
President Buhari, who was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, spoke at the launch of the War Against Drug Abuse (WADA), an initiative of the NDLEA to mark the United Nations International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking themed: “Share Facts on Drugs. Save Lives.”
According to the president, it is a war that is destroying three generations, because there were clips of some grandparents on drugs, parents on drugs, and by extension, their wards and children had also taken to drugs.
“So, this is a war that is targeting three generations in a stretch. So, it is more deadly than even the security challenges that we are having in this country and I believe strongly that every effort must be put in place to ensure that we deal with the issues of substance abuse and trafficking and manufacture so that we can get to the root cause of the mirage of insecurity problems that are confronting this nation and I believe strongly, with every bit of conviction, that if we are able to deal with the issues of drug abuse, substantially, our security challenges will drastically reduce as we walk towards a drug-free Nigeria.”
The president also charged the NDLEA to intensify efforts at ridding the vast forests of the Southw-West and South-South regions of the country of criminal elements, who have made the places their hideouts, from where they launch criminal onslaughts as well as for farming marijuana.
President Buhari said: “I am directing the NDLEA to develop a robust risk-communication and community engagement strategy that will not only disseminate the four pillars of the plan to responsible entities, but also deal with destroying production sites and laboratories, break the supply chain, discourage drug use and prosecute offenders as well as traffickers, rehabilitate addicts and enforcement of relevant laws.
“I want to particularly draw the attention of the agency to the fact that the use of many of our forests as criminal hideouts is because large swathes of cannabis plantations are hidden deep within those forests, especially, in the Southwest and the South-South.
“You may, therefore, need to drive these criminal elements from such hideouts, because they use it for the growth of these plants and also as a repository for criminal elements to conclude and plan their adventures on our people”.
He called on all families, schools, civil society organisations, professional associations, religious organisations, the academia, community leaders and individuals to work for the common good in order to rid their communities of drug use and trafficking.
“As your president, I will continue to address underlying causes of drug abuse, including poverty reduction, for which my pledge for lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years and strengthened by the recently developed National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy signposts my unwavering commitment.”
I am tempted to assist President Buhari to adumbrate further and better evidential proofs to demonstrate how so accurate he is on this his very well written and delivered national speech on the wider implications of hard drugs.
First, it is not in doubt that most countries around the world often put measures in place to check the proliferation of drugs trafficking due to the fundamental truism that drugs affect mostly the young population who are at the stage that is scientifically and economically rated as the years of highest National Economic productively. The productivity of the youngest population of Nigeria, obviously, is the driving force of both the formal and informal sectors of Nigeria’s economy.
It therefore implies that if the greater percentage of young people are hooked on hard drugs or are in the business of assisting older drug barons to traffick hard drugs, then the economic wellbeing of Nigeria will shrink significantly and most of the youths engaged in the crime of drug trafficking when caught may spend the greater fraction of their lives in detention facilities.
Already, many young Nigerians have been executed in many Asian nations whereby drug trafficking is a capital offence.
Also, it is globally and statistically proven that most takers and consumers of hard drugs are young people.
These drug habits lead to diverse ramifications, sociologically, psychologically and other wise.
Two cases locally demonstrate the above.
Assuming without accepting hook, line and sinker, the illegal public parade of the 21-year- old student of University of Lagos Chidinma Ojukwu about the alleged murder of the middle age media entrepreneur Mr. Usifo Asaga in Lagos, what is a lesson from those shenanigans is the aspect of hard drugs and the science surrounding the altering of the mind of youngsters to commit unimaginable crime that if they are in their conscious mind without hard drugs, they may ordinarily never commit such alleged heinous crime.
Let us take the case of a very popular drug amongst youths of Nigeria known as tramadol. Scientists have these warnings for us: Addiction and misuse: This drug can lead to addiction and misuse, which can result in overdose and death. To help avoid these problems, take this drug exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you have any concerns about this warning, talk with your doctor.
Slowed or stopped breathing: This drug can slow or stop your breathing. If this isn’t treated immediately, it can cause death. This risk is highest within three days of starting the drug or increasing your dosage.
Accidental ingestion: If anyone, especially children, take a dose of this drug by accident even once, it can cause death. This drug should be stored out of reach of children.
Life-threatening effects for children: In some cases, children’s bodies can process this drug too quickly. This can lead to slowed breathing and death. This drug shouldn’t be used in children younger than 12 years of age. It should also not be used in children younger than 18 years of age who have certain risk factors, or who have just had a tonsillectomy or adenoidectomy.
Neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome: If you use this medication for a long time while you’re pregnant, it can cause withdrawal in your baby. Withdrawal in your baby can lead to death. Symptoms of withdrawal can include irritability, hyperactivity, unusual sleep patterns, and a high-pitched cry. They can also include tremor, vomiting, diarrhea, and failure to gain weight.
Interactions with certain drugs: Taking tramadol with certain drugs can cause varied serious effects. These effects include increased tramadol levels, possibly leading to seizures and serotonin syndrome. They also include reduced effectiveness of tramadol, and opioid withdrawal symptoms. The drugs that can cause these effects include amiodarone, quinidine, erythromycin, ketoconazole, ritonavir, and similar medications.
Interactions with benzodiazepines: Taking tramadol with benzodiazepines and other similar drugs can cause very serious effects. These effects can include severe fatigue, slowed breathing, coma, and death. (healthline.com).
Just read the report carried in today’s The Guardian newspaper of Nigeria of a young student who jumped to his death after taking some identified hard drug.
The Guardian, the flagship of African media space, reports that a 400-level optometry student of Abia State University, Uturu, has been confirmed dead after jumping down from a three-storey building.
He was reported to be on drugs when he jumped from his lodge called Favour Lodge located off the campus on Saturday evening.
Reports by students revealed that the deceased, identified as Francis Chibuike, in the video recorded after he took a hard drug known as Colorado, was unable to contain its effect.
According to some students, his friends reportedly locked him in the room and went in search of cassava flakes known as garri to restore him back to consciousness, but the deceased went through the balcony and jumped down from the building with blood gushing out from his head before they returned.
A student from the school, Paul Udo, in his Facebook post, said the deceased jumped from the stairs with head shattered beyond medical help. Another student, Nnadi Thyword, while commenting on the incident, said: “Come to think of it; he is a medical student and ought not to be told the dangers of these drugs. It is doubtful to say that those who take these drugs don’t know the negative effects. This is simply an addiction.”
In the video made available to The Guardian yesterday, the student recording the video, who appeared to own the apartment, where Francis had taken the substance, was heard saying: “I told you not to take it, but you did. I told you I don’t like it. ”
According to a news publication, the Chief Security Officer (CSO) of the institution, Navy Commander ThankGod Evulobi (retired), confirmed the incident, describing it as one of the consequences of hard drugs.
According to him, the deceased, who is from Imo State, drugged himself and told his friends that he was going out only for him to jump out from the window.
Aside from this aforementioned story, stories abound of several cases of suicides by young students which are attributable to the consequences of intake of hard drugs. Some jumped into the Lagos lagoon. Others simply took poisons and died.
Fortunately, Nigeria is not found wanting in the area of policy development on how the theme of hard drugs is textually and contextually formulated.
Nigeria has immensely benefitted from the technical assistance it is getting from the United Nations office on drugs and crime.
The partnership between Nigeria and that United Nations agency is about one of the most effective models that other sectors need to follow.
However, institutionally, Nigeria needs to upgrade the NDLEA to become much more focused on the much- needed coordinated war against hard drugs that won’t be basically media centred and mere popularity contest.
But rather, there is the need for better investments in the area of rehabilitation of drugs users. A good institution like the NYSC especially under the current wonderful leadership of Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim should be consulted and a sustainable working partnership entered between NDLEA and NYSC to confront the hydra-headed monster of drugs intakes and trafficking especially because the National Youth Service Corps scheme has become a very successful functional brand in the country that focuses on youngsters.
Hundred of thousands of youngsters who are hooked on drugs have had to waste away as criminals and murderers because the Nigerian system has failed them because it has always been focused on being on the front pages of newspapers than on how many drug users have been rehabilitated.
I have had to read through the executive summary of the policy document prepared by Nigeria on the strategy for combating hard drugs menace that covers the year 2021 to 2025. I must say that if the beautifully written policy document is effectively implemented, then I believe the majority of our youths misled into embracing the use of hard drugs, will see the futility in so doing and resolve to stay far away from such life-damaging habits and also deny drugs barons the recruitment markets for traffickers.
NDLEA should focus also on enlightening youngsters on the dangers of the use and trafficking of hard drugs making use of credible civil rights platforms such as the one that yours faithfully coordinates called Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria
A bird’s eye view or synopsis of this policy document will convince us that our problem is not the lack of written texts but rather the bureaucratic bottlenecks slowing down the institutional mechanisms for the effective delivery of these aims and objectives of combating hard drugs which sociologically impact Nigeria much more than terrorism.
The terrorism of hard drugs needs to be confronted and NDLEA needs funding and operational independence if we must attain these lofty goals. It can’t be going cap in handing begging for funds and receiving paltry allocation through the justice ministry as if it is a Boys Brigade organisation. The job of NDLEA is very critical.
Before I forget, here are snippets of the policy document aforementioned.
“The overall goal of NDCMP 2021–2025 is to improve health and security for everyone living in Nigeria. It is based on the premise that the problems arising from drug supply and consumption are not limited to people who use drugs, but have wider health, social and economic consequences on the family, community and nation. The plan contains four strategic pillars that culminate in an integrated multi-sectoral strategic and operational plan to comprehensively address drug issues in Nigeria. The pillars are: Supply Reduction; Drug Demand Reduction; Access to Controlled Medicines for Medical and Scientific Purposes; and Governance and Coordination. Each of the strategic pillars is anchored in one or two MDAs of the Government that will be responsible for achieving desired outcomes.”
“The desired result of the supply reduction strategic pillar is to reduce production and supply of illicit drugs, including illicit narcotics, precursors, psychotropic substances, and other nationally and internationally controlled drugs. The five desired outcomes are: 1) Increased disruption of drug trafficking; 2) Making drug trade unprofitable; 3) Reduced diversion from licit to illicit uses of narcotics, psychotropic substances and precursors; 4) Reduced illicit production of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) and new psychoactive substances (NPS); and 5) Reduced cannabis cultivation. NDLEA is the lead agency for this strategic pillar.”
“The strategic pillar on Drug Demand Reduction builds on the sensitization, advocacy, prevention and treatment programmes carried out in the previous NDCMP cycle. The desired outcome is a reduction in demand for drugs, as measured in four areas: 1) Reduced use of drugs (prevention and sensitization); 2) Reduced dependence on drugs (treatment); 3) Reduced harm caused by drug use; and 4) Improved services. NDLEA, FMOH, NAFDAC and NACA are the lead organizations for this pillar.”
The strategic pillar on Access to Controlled Medicines for Medical and Scientific Purposes is meant to address the problem of a lack of availability of controlled medicines for genuine patients and its severe impact on the health and wellness of Nigerians. This pillar, therefore, seeks improved access and appropriate use of controlled medicines, measured by: 1) Increased accessibility, affordability and availability of controlled medicines in public and private health facilities; 2) Rational use of controlled medicines; 3) Health systems strengthening for accessibility, availability and affordability; and 4) Preventing diversion of controlled medicines. FMOH and NAFDAC are the lead organizations for this pillar.”
By and large, I repeat that President Muhammadu Buhari struck the most melodious right chord on this issue. I so submit. Except to say that I’m still dancing to the melodious tunes of the president’s most philosophically written speech in 6 years.
Onwubiko is the head of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) and was a federal commissioner at the National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria.
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Moral Values In A Changing World
By Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha
JUSTICE: This world has degenerated into abysmal filth, immoral ungodly concupiscence, infantile greed, atavistic, primitive acquisition of property, and satanic hopelessness! The judiciary, the political class, the church, our royal fathers, and most other socio-cultural institutions have fallen into the cesspit of indiscipline and lack of respect for ethics! The Labour movement that used to be in the forefront of discipline cannot be trusted anymore!
MARIAM: Hehehehehehe! Okpoyibo! Big grammar is talking. I must invite Hon Patrick Obahiagbon to compete with you on explosive vocabulary.
PROFESSOR: That’s an old song. Our parents said the same thing some forty odd years ago.
UMUKORO: You are right; it is the way of the old to berate the world and say the past was better!
JUSTICE: Kindly don’t reduce the profundity of my introspective submission to the jejune level of the banal as has been the hallmark of pseudo-intellectuals in the polity!
MARIAM: I am going to get a new and bigger dictionary. I can’t find Michael West anymore!
JUSTICE: If you still restrict yourself to the archaic confines of Michael West, then you are a victim of historical detention, arrested development, and exploration of the brave new world!
MARIAM: I give up!
UMUKORO: Who still uses a dictionary in the 21st century? Ask Google my dear, ask Google!
JUSTICE: Your infantile and rudimentary knowledge of homonyms limits your capacity to process thoughts of the new century. Away with you, thou physically beautiful body without an intellectual soul. I take exception to people denigrating my exceptionally brilliant exegesis on the state of Homo sapiens!
PASTOR: ‘And in the last days, iniquity shall abound and the love of many shall wax cold’, so said the Master. The time is here!
PROFESSOR: A broken record! A broken record waxed hundreds of years ago!
PASTOR: But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved!
PROFESSOR: Saved from what? Another holocaust? Another atomic bomb dumped on humanity?
PASTOR: Do you spurn sacred and biblical prophecies?
PROFESSOR: General prophecies mean nothing to me. Look here Mr Pastor. For all the false prophecies which members of your infernal gang of profiteering pastors gave before the last general elections, you should be behind the bars of God!
JUSTICE: It is not late, not too late at all. The hounds of heaven are waiting for all the false pastors, especially those who have commercialized the Lord’s work! A wonderful and abominable thing is happening in the land. The prophets prophesy falsely, and the people love it so!
PROFESSOR: One preacher I knew used to say that one false prophet was more dangerous than 100 armed robbers. Now I understand why!
UMUKORO: Armed robbery is no longer fashionable. Pen robbery fetches millions of naira with one stroke. Just add two zeros to the figure or transfer public funds to a private account.
PROFESSOR: I spoke metaphorically!
PASTOR: When it is becoming fashionable for persons of the same gender to marry and be recognized by the state, then the world is coming to an end.
UMUKORO: Sodom and Gomorrah incurred God’s wrath with that abomination!
MARIAM: When Supreme Court judges dispense political justice, then the end of the state as we knew it, has come.
UMUKORO: Even in America! Democratic judges give judgment guided by the so-called liberal values of the democrats while republican judges give conservative verdicts like abolishing the right to having an abortion!
JUSTICE: What then is justice?
MARIAM: Self solution! Your name is justice!
PROFESSOR: Aren’t we mixing oranges and apples in the same basket?
PASTOR: Let the tares and the wheat grow. At the harvest the Lord shall do the separation of sheep from goats!
JUSTICE: Eschatological metaphors can be used to rationalize and explain currents and undercurrents of contemporary events. It is very convenient to do so!
PROFESSOR: I am disappointed that our Nobel laureate could make such a one-sided pronouncement on the 2023 general elections. Unlike him, he didn’t speak like a man who comprehends the totality of our traumatic experience in February 2023!
MARIAM: But he spoke his mind. The Constitution guarantees freedom of expression!
JUSTICE: He spoke with the finality of a judge. I respect him for that. But he should also like an elder have acknowledged the level of rigging and violence which marred the exercise. The general thinking is that he is silent on that aspect because a friend of his now occupies Aso Rock!
MARIAM: That is a most uncharitable thing to say about a man of such intellectual distinction and moral probity!
JUSTICE: Excuse me! Has he occupied any public office in the country to enable you to arrive at that conclusion? Has he been tested?
MARIAM: His name is a shield. His name travels before him.
JUSTICE: Why did he wait for the PEPT to make a pronouncement before proclaiming his tigritude?
PROFESSOR: Let’s leave that old man alone jor! I’m more interested in the shuffling feet at the CBN. What exactly is going on? Was there no due diligence before Shonubi was asked to act as Governor of the Central bank of Nigeria? Didn’t they know, couldn’t they have suspected that he was part of the rot that ran that institution aground in the dying days of the former president?
PASTOR: Alas, it has given the president the opportunity to appoint his own man as governor. The new man by all account is competent and exposed in the financial world!
PROFESSOR: My only worry is whether he will have the gumption to say no if he receives obnoxious directives from his boss.
JUSTICE: How many appointees in our country have the liver to say no to the indiscretion of their bosses? It is not in our DNA!
MARIAM: In Lagos state, the Speaker of House said no to the governor on the appointment of some commissioners! The heavens did not fall.
PROFESSOR: The heavens almost fell. But that speaker is arrogant. No big man can trust him. Or was he dancing to music being played in higher quarters to spite the governor?
MARIAM: Who knows! It is possible. The ways of politicians are not straightforward. How could he say that he and the governor are colleagues! He has no respect for the office!
UMUKORO: I felt sorry for the governor! This attempt to humiliate him all in the name of politics.
JUSTICE: I hear it is all about 2024. If he is thinking of becoming governor, that statement will return to haunt him in future!
PASTOR: Now! Now! Now! Is the Dubai visa ban still hanging over us or Mr. President got the desert kings to lift the embargo?
JUSTICE: Is there any ‘gbajue’ going on?
PROFESSOR: Hahahahahaha! The more you look, the less you see. Proverbs to bones and silence!
UMUKORO: I don’t think it is ‘gbajue! It is possible that there was an agreement in principle which would require Nigeria to finetune certain details before going public. A federal government cannot tell lies about such public matters!
PASTOR: When the saviour comes, let him that be on the rooftop not come down to be saved. You will run to the mountain and the mountain will be melting!
MARIAM: And the sea will be boiling!
PROFESSOR: Who will save us? Who can take the nation back to factory reset? Shall we invite Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Gen. Aguiyi Ironsi, and Ahmadu Bello to rescue us?
PASTOR: Perish such thoughts please! Those men have not been able to save themselves. How can they save anybody? Jesus Christ is the answer!
A Response To Toyin Falola’s Obasanjo, Obadide And Obajoko
By Yinka Agbetuyi
Toyin Falola’s “Obasanjo, Obadide and Obajoko” is a timely article that captures the complexities and contradictions of a Yoruba (even Nigerian) in transition. It reframes the questions: ‘transition to where?’ How will this transition be better managed? Until these two questions are adequately resolved Yorubaland (and Nigeria) will always be in constant crises.
It is very important that the essay brings out the fact of extant kingships alongside modern polities in Europe like the UK and Belgium, (there are still twelve extant monarchies in Europe) where the monarchs are not subordinated to modern politicians and humiliated thereby. So which West are the Yoruba (and Nigerians) copying? Newfound lands, mainly the US – as well as Australia and Canada- stolen from the aborigines.
Yoruba people and fellow Nigerians must constantly be reminded that the success of the anticolonial struggles was about stopping such occurrence in Africa. Perhaps Yoruba Nation advocacy was geared toward the same goal, but lacked effective strategies. At the last stop before Tinubu’s unexpected victory, the groundswell was for Yoruba Nation advocates to go into partnership with other Nigerian ethnic nationalities and evolve a workable blueprint that takes into consideration each group’s preference and the rate of and speed of integration into the totality – the North’s preference at independence, and Awo’s true federalism- supplanted unfortunately by the adoption of an American presidential federalist model, hook line and sinker! My reaction over the decades is that Nigeria is not necessarily vying with others for the position of the 51st state of the US.
In my own summation in diverse forums, as it exists now in Europe, the royal houses should be clearly delimited and given definite CONSTITUTIONAL roles and worthy remuneration. First Class traditional rulers should earn the same salaries as sitting governors (Nigeria can afford this option many times over from a mere fraction of its stolen wealth if recovered). Monarchs will in turn underwrite the integrity of the polity by being constitutionally tasked with the appointment of auditors who will scrutinise State spending (states and federal) and projects in their domains and report directly back to such MONARCHS for onward transmission to state chief executives and the presidency.
Traditional rulers should be elected and appointed only by traditional councils and their appointment signed into law (but not subject to nor subordinated to) the state governors. After all the days of crass illiterate caricature of traditional rulers is long gone. Traditional rulers should therefore be structured as parallel instruments of and facilitators of governance in a check and balance structuration of governance, in a carefully integrated whole to achieve total governance – the transient and the permanent. Lesser traditional rulers should be administered by the First-Class rulers (in council) who will recommend their emoluments, (and functions) subject to rankings to state governments.
Only First-Class rulers (in council) should be able to recommend the creation and elevation of lower ranked rulers to the states according to the existing norms of such communities, (they did this well enough in the precolonial days) and the state government should only administratively approve or reject such recommendations based on financial contingencies. This formulation should neutralise party politicking in the creation and maintenance of traditional rulership.
Yes, traditional rulers must be constitutionally barred from seeking and accepting contracts from their states of origin and from the federal government, the same way a governor is not notionally entitled to be awarded a contract by their own government. In the British system, this is called declaration of interests by parliamentarians (whether in government or not) in the register of interest book. This is to prevent conflict of interests of the person in government (and their associates) and their official duties. This provision demonstrates that greed is a universal phenomenon unless and until checked by relevant laws (witness the UK Parliament’s expenses claim scandal in 2010.)
Now that the Tinubu struggle has been fought and won, the Yoruba Nation advocates, must in continuation of their activities not rest their oars on the ship of State, but intensify such by taking the lead in the quest for this new reality, by reaching out to like minded nationalities across the country to achieve the constitutional change for a better, stable and prosperous tomorrow for Nigerians.
Prince Agbetuyi is a Professor of Comparative Arts & World History at the Edutronix Institute, London.
Use Your Penis: Hopes, Expectations And Realities Of African Migrants In Europe
By Leo Igwe
The issue of migration to Europe has been in the news. There has been intense discussion on how to tackle the flow of migrants to, not from, Europe. There have been reports of boats carrying migrants capsizing or missing on the Mediterranean Sea. Many Africans have died trying to enter Europe via the Sahara desert. North African and European countries have taken measures to curb illegal migration and human trafficking. Still, the migration flow out of Africa continues and shows no signs of abating. Why has the migration of Africans or migration from Africa become such a huge problem? What are the hopes, experiences and realities of these migrants?
In August I was invited to speak at a seminar on migration. The focus was on the migration of Africans to Europe. The event took place in Bergen, Norway. As a doctoral student, I lived in Germany for six years. I was invited to speak at programs on migration. Governmental and nongovernmental agencies in Denmark and Germany organized the events. I did not find these events interesting because the focus was on human trafficking and the role of African juju and witchcraft. Do not get me wrong. Human trafficking is a huge problem and needs to be addressed. But we have to tackle the problem from the root. These events were by my estimate a complete waste of time and money because organizers and participants were not ready to tell themselves the truth, face the facts and address the real issue. They want to make themselves feel good and privileged while talking about these helpless Africans streaming to their shores. Organizers were more interested in marginal voodoo, and oath-taking issues. They made it seem as if there was something unusual about African migration. But there was not. Migration is as old as human beings. Humans from all races and regions have been migrating from one region to another, from one country or continent to another. Before this recent wave of migration out of Africa, people from Europe, America, and Asia have been migrating to Africa. They are still migrating for business, social, economic, religious, and political reasons.
Contemporary African migration is mainly economic. It is driven by poverty, miserable living conditions, and the devastation of African economies by European, Asian, and American companies. To tackle the problem of migration, African economies must be fixed. The continent must realize an economic leap. Now instead of focusing on the economic roots of the problem and how to address them, many Europeans and Americans expend energy discussing trivialities, such as the role of voodoo and so-called powerful witch doctors in Nigeria. Well, at these events, I told the organizers the bitter truth. I told them to forget this juju or voodoo talk and face the reality: the destruction and revival of African economies. I told the organizers what they did not want to hear. And they never invited me back.
But this time around it was different. The organizers were not Europeans or Americans. A Nigerian student at the University of Bergen staged the event. He contacted me some months ago, drawing my attention to the plight of African migrants in Norway. He explained how many who travel to Norway and other European countries had their hopes and expectations dashed. Many who migrate to this country or other European countries end up entrapped. They are compelled to go into things they did not plan to do. Many migrants end up in a new form of slavery, in a marriage to a European citizen. Left with the option of going back to Africa at the end of their study or marrying to get the documents to stay, many end up contracting a marriage, in many cases a paper or document marriage. These marriages entrap them, they turn these migrants into errand boys and girls. Many of them are mistreated. They suffer silently. If they misbehaved, their partners would threaten to report them to the authorities and get them deported. I was told that many in the African migrant communities were not helping matters. Someone told me that he approached some migrants seeking and wanting to know how he could navigate migration issues. But the person told him: “Use your penis”. I guess for a female it would have been a case of: Use your vagina. While studying in Germany, some African migrants told me how they were sexually exploited, and dehumanized before they could get legal documents to stay in the country. One woman told me that everyman who wanted to help her wanted to sleep with her.
So, the program was cathartic. It provided a space to let out these pains, sufferings, disappointments, and frustrations.
The event brought together ‘free-will’ migrants and Norwegians. The panelists were from Ghana, South Sudan, Nigeria, and Belarus. I was the only international guest on the panel. Other panelists discussed the hurdles that they have faced, and the challenges that they confronted trying to live and integrate in Norway. As one panelist noted, many who come to study were unable to find a job at the end of their program. In many cases, they graduated and found out that there was no job for them, or they were unable to speak the local language, which was a requirement for many jobs. Another panelist from Ghana, married to a Norwegian, discussed her challenges as a migrant parent in Norway. She recounted how her child had suffered racism in the school. She narrated an experience where the child did a group assignment with four other white Norwegian children. And the teacher gave her child four marks for the assignment and other group members five marks.
There was some discussion on illegal migration and the risks involved. Some Norwegians in the audience noted that many African migrants knew about the risks they could face migrating to Europe. And still, they decided to embark on the risky journey. There was a lot of focus on migrants and their experiences traveling from Africa. However, little or no attention was paid to the European connection with the problem, the fact that western foreign economic policies have devastating effects on African economies. Africa is a market for Western goods including Norwegian stockfish. Apparently Europe needs African markets not African migrants. Western multinationals are relentlessly plowing and plundering the resources of Africa in ways that have displaced the local populations. African professionals are leaving in droves. They are migrating to work in the West and the Middle East. So, Western economies profit from the migration flow and the cheap labor it provides. Western countries benefit from the economic status quo that has turned Africans into migrants and refugees in Europe and America. To contain the flow of migrants to Europe, the situation in Africa must change. African economies must begin to grow and improve. Western governments must end the economic exploitation of Africa.
Dr. Igwe directs the Advocacy for Alleged Witches.
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