Report that no fewer than 800 Nigerians are awaiting execution in South Asian countries over drug-related crimes is devastating. It merely underscores the degenerate state of a country whose image on the global arena is fast waning. Yet, Nigeria is a country with great potentials in human and material resources, begging only for responsible and purposeful leadership. This type of news adds to making the country a laughing stock for which the country’s government at all levels should be thoroughly ashamed.
But beyond the lamentation, the awful state of the country, which literally pushes the citizens, especially youths, out of the country in droves is worrisome. Additionally, Nigerians must be reminded that inordinate ambitions exercised with impunity and regardless of other countries’ laws will only lead them to the path of destruction, as many are learning painfully. This should serve as lessons to would-be travelers.
Nevertheless, there would have been no mass emigration of Nigerians to all corners of the globe if the home front were conducive for living. Truth is that Nigeria has been virtually destroyed by inept leadership. The socio-economic condition is dreadful thereby leaving Nigerians with little option than to flee the country.
However, it is one thing to migrate and another thing to obey the laws of the receiving countries. Nigerians who choose not to abide by the rules and regulations in whichever country they find themselves should expect no pity from any quarters. In any event, unless they claim not to have been given fair trial in accordance with international standard, they have invariably tied the hands of their government, which is bound to respect the laws of other countries.
The Principal Staff Officer, Training, Media and Advocacy of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Imo State Command, Mr. Shehu Lamuwa, had at a one-day security sensitisation programme, organised by the National Orientation Agency (NOA) for students in Owerri, disclosed that some 800 Nigerians were awaiting execution abroad. Presenting a lecture on “Drug Abuse: Prevention and Strategies”, Lamuwa, who is also the Assistant Commander of Narcotics, said about 14.5 million Nigerians indulge in drug abuse, through intake of hard substances, not prescribed but prohibited drugs.
He identified laws and norms favourable to drug uses as availability, accessibility as well as affordability of hard drugs, extreme poverty, political and economic instability as facilitators of the menace. He also blamed improper parenting, anti-social behaviours, early exposure to drug use especially among teenagers, among others. Thus, having been exposed to the use of illicit drugs, many youths leave the shores of the country in that frame. And while in foreign countries, rather than eschew the bad conduct and pursue legitimate business, some choose to indulge in the same drug use until they are apprehended.
Not long ago, President Muhammadu Buhari lamented illegal youth migration to Europe and other countries in the process of which many promising young Nigerians have lost their lives, while the lucky ones lose their bearing in life. The president’s concern was touching, but what would be more meaningful is to set an example in Nigeria by creating an environment with opportunities for all.
Otherwise, blatant misrule and economic mismanagement by a depraved leadership across the country, which have left the populace in abject poverty, will continue to push the young ones out in search of an elusive better life abroad. With mass unemployment and grinding poverty, young people have been left with no other option than to seek greener pastures elsewhere, even at the risk of losing their lives.
The trend is reversible if only the political leadership would shun corruption, selfish indulgence and show commitment to the welfare of the people. The resources to build a strong and virile economy are there and making the home front attractive is the only solution to the embarrassment of migration. Among other things, there is need to curb unemployment among the youths, which has reached an alarming level. Nigeria’s unemployment rate stands at 33 per cent in 2022 and still rising. The figure is now presumed to have notched up a few more points.
Not long ago, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) noted that a total of 22.45 million of the total labour force of 76.96 million were either unemployed or under-employed in the last quarter of 2015 compared to 20.7 million in Q3. Rather than abate, the unemployment crisis has worsened since the middle of 2016 as a result of the economic recession. Many companies have either cut down on operations or folded up completely, leading to mass layoff of workers. Consequently, thousands of people have been pushed to the edge, prompting them to flee their homeland.
The tragedy is compounded by the fact that the citizens are largely victimised by the unbridled exploitation perpetrated by the political class. The youths are particularly distressed as thousands graduate from schools yearly without employment or any hope of a good life. These conditions compel them to seek to leave their country, under any condition, by any means and to just about anywhere. The consequences of these desperate moves have often been fatal.
Granted that the system does not give young Nigerians any reason to have faith in their country, those who are bent on leaving the country should abide by the law to be on the safe side. At the same time, the affected countries should not unduly profile Nigerians. Those who fall short of the law should be given fair trial by allowing them to have full legal representation and rights. The Nigerian authorities home and abroad still have an onerous duty to follow up on the convictions with a view to ascertaining the fairness of their prosecution.