The immediate past Nigerian Ambassador to Ukraine, Afolabi Adefidipe, has admonished corps members not to dehumanise themselves by willingly sending themselves to slavery.
The admonition came during the sensitisation on Illegal Migration by a non-governmental organisation known as Pan African Institute for Global Affairs and Strategy (PAIGAS) to the 2019 Batch ‘A’ corps members currently undergoing orientation at the NYSC Permanent Orientation Camp, Ikare-Akoko, Ondo State.
Ambassador Adefidipe stressed that the issue of Nigerians being taken as slaves ended some two hundred years ago but, now Nigerians were voluntarily submitting themselves as slaves in Arab and European countries.
The PAIGAS director, however, said that Nigerians could travel out of the country because they had the liberty to do so but urged them not to go illegally.
The graduate of History from University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, confirmed that migration had always been with human beings, citing the movement of the Israelites to Egypt.
He opined that there would always be movement but it was left to Nigerians to decide whether to move legally or go “through the backdoor.”
“Migration can be good if you are able to get to these your dream countries legally and become legitimate residents and things could be fairly better but if you are so unlucky with your adventure, then the story would not be too palatable to tell.”
Ambassador Adefidipe who joined the then Ministry of External Affairs (now Foreign Affairs) in 1981 immediately after the mandatory NYSC programme in the old Bendel State further explained that people erroneously believed that they could pick money on the streets of Europe and forget that Europe also had its unemployment challenges.
“Let me drum this fact into your ears that if you are not a professional, they do not need your services. If you get there through the backdoor, you can’t get registered, you can’t be fully settled but you will be moving from one place to another just to evade arrest and the moment you are apprehended, it is outright deportation and nothing more.”
The diplomat who has visited over 30 countries as member or head of Nigerian negotiating team narrated the ordeal of a Nigerian who bluntly refused to come back home and burned himself while in prison.
The reason the young man gave was that he sold his parents’ house to travel thinking that he would buy them another house as soon as he found his feet in Europe.
The retired Ambassador who was once Deputy Head of Mission to Nigerian Embassies in Indonesia and Belgium before he was appointed Nigerian ambassador to Ukraine in 2011 identified torture, prostitution, slavery as the ugly sides of illegal migration.
He reiterated that the sensitisation was to enable corps members become aware of the possible dangers underlining illegal migration.
He reminded corps members that the Europeans realised that human beings were no longer manageable and therefore saw the need to abolish slave trade.
He added that the European society was so structured that even if citizens were not working, there was a social programme put in place to cater for their needs.
The foremost diplomat, who had attended Bilateral meetings in various countries which included USA, Canada, Iran, India and Jamaica noted that Nigerians by nature were hardworking but regrettably in illegal trade, adding that Nigerians over the years had been recruited to become prostitutes in Italy and other European countries.
The diplomat who had Master’s degree in International Politics from Belgian Institute expressed concern over the rate of unemployment, poverty and illiteracy in Nigeria but disclosed to the graduate youths that the present government was doing a lot quietly to effect positive changes that would make the country regain her lost glory.
Adefidipe admitted and apologised that his generation might have failed but encouraged the corps members to take steps which would make their tomorrow better than today and urged them to key into the Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) programme, as that, according to him, would help them become better Nigerians during and after the service year.
The NYSC Ondo State Coordinator, Mrs. Grace Akpabio had earlier thanked the diplomat and public administrator for using his retirement period to give new lease of life to the graduate youths.
The coordinator encouraged the corps members to volunteer and be members of the PAIGAS Ambassadors that would go to all nooks and crannies of Ondo State and say NO to illegal migration.