Thursday 30 November 2017

Libya's Slave Market: What African Governments Can Do, As AU-EU Set To Launch 'Concrete Military Policing Action'!

For some, the journey to what could have been termed- ‘greener pastures’, is the only way to secure a better future; away from the bleak future that confronts most young people living in Africa. Majority of these youths, will not make it over to Europe. 

The ocean’s bed becomes the resting-place for a number of youths, some of who were betrayed by agents, who tricked them out of their countries, with promises of better a future in Europe. Some were arrested, some were kidnapped and their families extorted and some were sold into slavery. It is as the saying goes, different tales-of-woe, for different folks.

Roving Informant took to the street of Lagos-Nigeria, to get the thoughts of some young Nigerians in the Ajah axis of Lagos state. Young people were targeted for this interview, because they are most vulnerable to be lured into this horrendous journey of 'almost' no-return. Whiles  sharing their thoughts about what some of them termed: the rush to better life abroad, the Libyan slave market, and experiences of close relatives who embarked on the journey, they gave advise to other young Nigerians and Africans in general and what they think governments should do to help this situation. 

A large number of the people interviewed said they are aware of the journey to Europe through Libya, and the hazards that envelops the trip. 

Vox pop session

Gloria Udo, a lady in her early thirty's, who works with a consultancy Firm, said the youths who travel to Europe through Libya are simply going in search for greener pastures. According to her: “if it is well in Nigeria, if graduates are getting jobs, I don’t think anybody would want to do that. Most of these people are graduates; it is because the economy has not favored them. On the other hand, for some of them, it is greed, they are not contented.”

Udo’s advise to the government: “The government should create more employment opportunities, create more jobs, and make the economy favorable for investors. The situation is getting worse; I have never experienced what I experienced this year (2017). Things have never been this hard before seriously, and this is not coming from just one person, the whole country is lamenting. I pray it gets better though”. 

Our next interviewee wished to be addressed as ‘Chief, Engineer, Prince Clinton Agu’, a businessperson, has this to say, about Nigerians travelling to Europe through Libya: “I look at it, that they don’t know what they are doing because they don’t value their lives. This is because for somebody to come and tell you that they want to take you through Libya to Europe, you are risking your life. Along the line, anything can happen to you; no security. They can die along the line, and the person becomes a goner, there is no tracer, no investigation. Even your family will not know where the person’s corpse is. However, if you travel legally, there will be evidence, you have your documents, and you can be traced. Travelling through Libya is risky in my understanding. From YouTube videos, I have seen the rescue team save some of these immigrants. Most of them can be attacked, shot, threatened, and sold as slaves. They can even be used for rituals and subject to the worse kind of inhuman treatments. Even the ones that are already dead, we do not really know what becomes of their remains, as the people handling their remains are not their family members. It is risky”.

To curtail this development, Agu advised: “The Nigerian government need to have a re-think and start making things work, if the economy is good, nothing will make our youths to think of traveling out to enslave themselves. If the government can create more jobs for the masses, people will not travel. Instead, the ones that have traveled will start coming back. The system is not working”.

The next person to share his thought on the Libya immigrants' predicament, was a young man, simply identified as Musa, he works with one of the black-market foreign exchange organizations, in Lekki, Lagos.

According to Musa, the challenge is more of psychological. “Mentally, we arrest ourselves psychologically, with the believe that we cannot make it here, until we travel abroad. So most times, we take the illegal means of traveling and risk our lives and our families. I do not really buy that idea of going anywhere to make it because I strongly believe in my country, and that I am going to make it here. To me, being poor is not about not having the cash, it is about not having morals and intellect. Therefore, if you are learned, you have the ability to be rich because you can convert your ideas into use, Nigerians die in Italy and America and other Western countries, it is not only in Libya. It is modern slavery. It is believing that once you travel abroad, you can stand on your feet, only for you to be disappointed. I do not believe it is only in Libya that Blacks are subjected to modern day slavery. It’s the entire West. Young people need to get their acts together, get educated in their preferred fields, because if you are mentally sound, you cannot have that prisoner mentality of ‘travel anywhere".

Musa's opinion on the government: “I think the government is trying, the problem is because we sorely depend on them. I hold a Post-graduate degree, but I do not believe that it is the government that will give me job. I am over here trying to convert my education into money. The United States of America practices Capitalism, whereby the people that holds the money sponsor the people that have the idea. We can do that here. I’m here with my idea working for someone who has the money; with knowledge and persistence, we can work it out together”.

Next, was a 21-year-old man, Gods-will Sunday, who engages on menial jobs, for a living. On travelling abroad, Sunday said: “One of my friends from Benin, Edo state, told me about it. He is planning of generating money for the journey. He told me a particular woman in Benin City, organises the trip, after you have paid her some huge sum of money, I do not know the exact amount. The woman arranges the movement, she take them to Europe through Libya. My friend said, the woman has connections in Libya and even in Europe. He said the woman told him they would cross the Mediterranean Sea on an inflated boat-like big balloon. According to my friend, the woman will bring her people; other agents will equally bring their people. They bring all these people into the big boat balloon and push it into the sea. The big balloon moves with the sea wave, any European country the wave takes it to, that is where those that survived the journey will alight. However, the journey is dangerous because sometimes these people will not get to their destination; accidentally the balloon might burst and all the occupants will be drowned. Sometimes when they survive the dangerous journey, they claim asylum or orphans to generate sympathy from their host countries”. Mr. Sunday’ said he has no idea about the on-going slave trade in Libya, other than what he just narrated. Nevertheless, he said he has been advising his friend against illegal travel to Europe through Libya. “It is very risky,” he said. “If am offered money to embark on such journey, I will not. My advice to other young people like me is that they should not ever think of embarking on such journey. From what we hear, the disadvantage is much more than the advantage. I understand they travel because of the money; due to the high exchange rate of foreign currencies, they travel for greener pastures, to secure a better future and be able to take care of their families.”

Sunday’s thought on government’s efforts: “The government is not doing enough, otherwise the thoughts to travel out for greener pastures, will not come to people’s heads. They travel because they feel the government has not catered for our job needs, so they want to go to where they think the governments will care for them. There is not even an enabling environment for foreigners who have come to invest. The unwritten code of ‘who do you know at the top’ is discouraging investors. The Nigerian government needs to create an enabling environment for investors, because these investors can help create jobs for the teaming unemployed young people. Therefore, my advice is that the government should mobilise the youths. An older man with children will not readily want to embark on the journey to Europe through Libya; it is the young people that are mostly attracted to the journey, because they are desperate to make it. Some young people are not interest in formal education; they just want to be empowered. This can be done through the creation of more jobs and supporting entrepreneurship". 

Chizoba Nwanokpara, bread-seller, a young-man in his early twenties, said his younger brother travelled through Libya.My junior brother travelled through Libya, he tried travelling legally, but it didn’t work, so he decided to go illegally. I think it is about the mind, you have it at the back of your mind that it is a fifty-fifty game. Before my brother travelled, he prayed. He travelled with seven other young people, out of which four were arrested. Only three of them made it out of Libya. I gave him my savings from the meagre job I was doing, to add to what he had, before he left for Libya. On getting to Libya, he was stuck. Again, I sent him all I saved, our father sold his car and sent the proceeds to enable him leave Libya, because the story he told us over the phone, of happenings there was troubling. We sold everything we had to enable him leave Libya. Fortunately, he left Libya. We hear Nigerians stranded in Libya are crying and looking for ways to come back, due to what they are passing through. I wish they did not have to travel; their suffering here in the country would not have been that bad". 

Chizoba's advise to Nigerian government: “I will want the Nigerian government to focus on the youths. Truly, some of us could not go beyond secondary school education level, due to lack of funds and sponsors, in as much as we would have loved to; the government needs to assist us. I am not from this part of the country. I sell bread to survive." I do not even have a house; I sleep under this bridge. It is because we the young people, do not have any other alternative, that most of us, out of desperation embark on these dangerous journeys. We need proper jobs and empowerment to pursue our dreams".

A recent outcry against modern day slavery particularly in Libya, where African migrants are reportedly being sold for as low as $400, was the thrust of the recently concluded two-day African Union/ European Union Summit, held in Abidjan, Ivory Coast-West Africa. About 83 Heads of States were in attendance. 

As a result of the summit, French President, Emmanuel Macron, announced the launching of the EU-AU "concrete military and policing action", to arrest human traffickers and rescue African migrants enslaved in Libya. The EU made a €44 billion "Marshall Plan for Africa" pledge. 

Fayez al-Serraj, Libyan President, pledged his government's consent and assistance into identified camps, where these inhuman acts are perpetrated. Coming days or weeks is expected to witness the evacuation of affected individuals willing to return to their home countries. 


We round-off with this video: 

Wednesday 29 November 2017

Photo Speaks On Beautification & Developmental Projects Around Lagos!

We went Roving, and brought pictures of some of the fascinating sights and commendable projects of the Lagos State Government.

Pictures Below:

New Look of a Public School at Broad Street, Lagos, Nigeria. 

Re-Constructed 'Christ Church Cathedral School', Broad street, Lagos

Abraham Adesanya round about, Lekki-Epe express way, Lekki Peninsula, Lagos

Abraham Adesanya round about, Lekki -Epe express way, Lagos

School of fish metal work at Car-wash bus stop, Iyana-oworo express way, Lagos 

Iyana-oworo express way, Lagos

Monday 27 November 2017

Yuletide Chat!

We are introducing our video segment with this chat on 'Yuletide rush'.

We hope you find it useful.

Prince Harry Weds Ms. Markle In Spring 2018!

Prince Harry, fifth in line to the Throne of Britain, is set to marry his fiancee, Meghan Markle. 

A statement released by Clarence House on Monday 27th November, 2017, and announce by Tony Appleton, an unofficial town crier at Kensington Palace -London, revealed the marriage will take place in Spring 2018, and the couple will be expected to live at Nottinhham Cottage, Kensington Palace, London.

Prince Harry engaged Meghan Markle in early November, 2017. Her Majesty, the Queen and close members of the Royal family have been duly informed; Prince Harry has equally sought and received the blessing of Meghan Markle's parents.

Thursday 23 November 2017

Ghana's 2018 Budget And Economic Policy!

Small and Medium Enterprises are believed to be the biggest employers of labor, cutting across divers strata of the labor market. When adequately supported smes can promote entrepreneurship and complement the government in employment. SMEs are therefore engines of growth and catalyst for socioeconomic transformation for any countries. In other words, they are essential to economic success.

November 2017:Accra Streets, Ghana

Developing countries the world over, have over the years attained increased economic growth reduced poverty rates and dependent on foreign aids, by implementing policies favorable to sme development. 

November 2017: Accra-Ghana-Circle Interchange
Ghana, formerly known as 'Gold Coast', is a developing country in the Sub-Saharan region of Africa. Despite economic and political challenges faced since independence, the country has over time shown potentials of growth. How far this would go notwithstanding, depends on the feasibility of its policies. This write up takes a glimpse at the proposed 2018 economic policy, the debate about it's ability to bring about growth and transformation. 
The country's Finance Minister, Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta, on Wednesday, November 15th, 2017 presented the much anticipated 2018 "private sector-led economic growth and transformation", Budget and Economic Policy of the government, the Parliament; seeking approval to spend 61 billion Ghana Cedi

The aim for this fund-request according to report, is to anchor government's agenda of moving the economy, beyond the reliance on foreign support or aid. The Budget, and Economic Policy is expected to focus on ensuring macro-economic stability, transforming agriculture and industry, strengthening social protection and inclusion, building on economic and social infrastructure and reforming public service delivery institution.

Earlier on, in his speech at the Ghana Industry Quality Awards in Accra, on November 11th, 2017, President Nana Addo dankwa Akufo- Addo, threw his weight behind the economic policy when he hinted that the 2018 budget would set out the road map for the down-ward review of electricity tariffs. This, according to the President, would encourage industries in the fore-front of the government's economic transnational agenda.

The Breakdown:
Of the 61 Billion Ghana Cedis proposed 2018 budget:
  • About 3.5 Billion Ghana Cedis, is expected to be allocated to the Real Estate sector.  
  • About 1 Billion Ghana Cedis, will go into 'Planting of Food and Job program
  • About 430 Million Ghana Cedis, will be channelled towards the actualisation of government's "One District - One Factory policy". 
  • About 100 Million Ghana Cedis, stimulus package is expected to go into distressed but viable industries.
  • About 14 Billion Ghana Cedis, is expected to go into the Social sector.

 Under the Social Sector:

  •  About 1.2 Billion Ghana Cedis, goes to "free SHS programme".  
  • About 468.5 Million Ghana Cedis, goes to School Feeding Programme,
  •  Employee Compensation gets about 10.3 Billion-Ghana Cedis.
  • About 700 Million Ghana Cedis, is expected to go into what the government termed "Repair & Rehabilitation of Agricultural Roads".
  •  Poverty Alleviation Programmes, is expected to gulp about 1.15 Billion Ghana Cedis.

Minority in Parliament think differently on the government's policy. This was upheld when the group got together in country's capital city, Accra, on Monday, November 13, 2017, to review the 2017 budget and economic policy and to reflect on the 2018 budget. Citing an increase in public debt from 122.6 Billion Ghana Cedis, in January 2017, to 138.6, Billion Ghana Cedis, as at June 2017. Ranking Member on the Finance Committee, and Minority Spokes Person on Finance, Mr. Cassiel Ato Forson, said the public-debt figure is expected to increase to about 150 Billion Ghana Cedis, by the end of 2017. The Minority group feared that this increase in debt, might end up reverting the country to the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) status come 2019. 

To find out what the populace think about the economic policy and how it has overtime affected their enterprises, Roving Informant took to the streets of Accra-Ghana, and had chats with small business owners. 

November 2017: Accra, Ghana

Having managed the day-to-day administration of a Guest-House in Kokomlemle area of Accra for the 15 years, a Hotel manager, who spoke on anonymity terms, said the previous government saw to the near-collapse of his business due to inconsistent power supplies. According to him, "Previously, inadequate electricity supplies affected our guest-house's patronage. Industries suffered, some down-seized, while those who could not take the heat relocated their businesses to other countries. our business survived that period by purchasing stand-by generators". 
Our Interviewee further stated that he preferred the present government. Although he recalled a brief period of power outage. "The new government has been able to restore and pay Teachers outstanding allowances, which the previous government cancelled. Nursing allowances has also been paid. To be frank, business is slow now, everybody is complaining. We hope with the 2018 budget, the economy will improve".

The next business owner our correspondence paid a visit, was a printer who has been in operations for 25-years. He said: "Over all, the NDC party gave me the highest point as a business owner, we paid high electricity tariffs with inconsistent supplies during the last administration, I brought stand-by plant (generator) to manage the situation. That affected cost of my service. Currently, power supply is stable, and tariff is better. However, things are slow now. I will ask that governments should use local printers like us for their printing jobs, instead of sending such works outside the county. That will empower us. Most of us can match some of the international printers in-terms of production quality, so government should empower us by giving us jobs."

Next, was a trader at the popular Markola Market; according to him, the present government is still new, hence too soon to put pressure on, or ascertain if it is ”good" or not, we have to give it two years. "I have not seen any difference between the last and present governments in terms of business. This government should consider bringing down import duties; this is my major concern as a business owner. I will equally like electricity tariff to be further brought down. There is a complain of hike in the price of petrol, it should be brought down. I will want to see construction of new roads, and re-construction of bad roads. In Ablekuma, where I live, we buy clean water. I will like the government to construct clean pipe borne water for us. Ghanaians love education, and the present government has done well, so far in that sector. But I will like this government to invite the individuals pointed in connection to corruption in all previous administrations for questioning".

A Small scales business owner, around Adabraka said: "There is no money in the system. We hope after the budget has been approved, money will be released into the that genuine cheque can be cleared. Interest rates should be stabilised, and electricity tariffs brought lower. There should be access to finance to enable us expand our businesses and employ more people. There are not much visible changes seen yet, but will time, changes will be more visible. So far, I like this policy".  

Conclusively, come 2019, turns of events would either prove or refute the alarm of the nation's minority group on increased debt, which they think could return the country to an HIPC status; Or, roll in favour of the current administration's believe that the Budget and Economic Policy would propel macro-economic growth and stability.

Obianuju Mbanusi writes.

Wednesday 8 November 2017

Families Yet To Identify 26 Dead Nigerian Women, As Italian Authority Investigates Cause Of Death!

Five migrants are currently being interrogated in the southern port of Salerno, Campania, over the death of 26 women, aged between 14 and 18, Nigerians, who reportedly died after allegedly drowning on an Italy bound rubber dinghy. The bodies were discovered floating on the Mediterranean, by a Spanish vessel on Sunday, November 5th, 2017.

Reports claimed 23 of the 26 deceased were on a rubber boat with 64 others. The bodies were among 34 other bodies recovered, while about 50 other persons are reportedly still missing. 

The identities of the woman is not yet revealed and so far, no family has stepped forward to claim the deceased since news of the incident filtered in.  

52 children including a newborn, and 90 women, of which 8 are reportedly pregnant, were rescued on Sunday. While a total of about 400 people were rescued in four attempts by the Spanish ship over the weekend.

Narrating the tragic incident, some of the survivors consisting of Nigerians, Ghanaians, Gambians, Senegalese and Sudanese said the warship departed from Lybia.  

Italian officials said they are investigating to ascertain if the women were sexually assaulted, why all the recovered bodies were females, and if the incident was as a result of sex-trafficking. 

The short distance between Libya and Italy's Lampedusa Island has over the years become a haven for smugglers. 

Families of these young women, and all casualties involved needs to be contacted, they need to come give the deceased identities. 
Saying they are Africans and Nigerians is not enough. Each and every single one of the casualties have backgrounds, families and friends. There is need for closure. 

Monday 6 November 2017

A Glimpse Into Eko Atlantic City!

Pictures below show an area of the 'still-under-construction' Eko Atlantic City, a breathtaking city, rising from the Atlantic Ocean, adjoining Victoria Island, Lagos - Nigeria.

Well mapped out road networks, street-lights, greening and all that makes a city spectacular. 

Information made available on Eko Atlantic site reveals that the city's main attraction will be a six-lane carriageway, two kilometres long and 60 meters wide boulevard, similar in size to Paris's Champs - Elysees or New York's Fifth Avenue.

On-going construction plan promises a magnificent city.

Blueprint of a completed Eko Atlantic City

Wednesday 1 November 2017

Nigeria Moves 24 Place Up To Clinch 'World Bank's' 145th Position On Ease Of Doing Business, Ranks Among Global Top Ten Reformers!

Good way to start the month. A recent World Bank report on ease of 'Doing Business' indicates that Nigeria moved 24 place upward, to secure 145th position, and ranked among global Top Ten Reformers.

Congratulating Nigerians and Chairman of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on this achievement, President Muhammadu Buhari said this improvement is a reflection of the government's efforts on the immigration policy for foreign investors. 

The President further emphasised the need for greater achievement for the nation.