A former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, on Thursday described the condition being faced by some Nigerian youth in Libya as dehumanising and that it ought to be condemned as a failure of leadership at all levels.
He spoke at the opening ceremony of the 2017 Annual Conference of the Comptroller General of Immigration of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) held at Abeokuta, Ogun State.
The conference was tagged, “Managing Migration and Facilitating Trade and Development in 21st Century Nigeria: NIS’ Perspective.”
Mr. Obasanjo lamented over what he called slavery in the 21st century in Africa and expressed concern that it had reared its ugly head in the present dispensation.
The former president noted that the development portends that African leaders, “must feel a sense of regret and have sober reflection on what we have done or what we have not done to bring this about to our own people.”
“I believe that slave trade in the 21st century should be condemned in the strongest language possible and nobody, who is involved in it should be excused. What can we do and what must we do?
“We must ensure that conducive atmosphere is created for genuine exchange of goods and ensure development within our country, sub-region, continent and the world which we live in,” Mr. Obasanjo added.
“Without movement, there can be no development. And movement means migration. But then today, migration has a very nasty connotation particularly when you watch the television and you hear the story of thousands of our youth daring to go through the desert”, he said.
”Then after they have done such hazardous journey, some of them are being sold as slaves. Slaves in the 21st century, Africans being sold by Africans and maybe to Africans! Making human beings as instruments for merchants, property to be sold and commodity, dehumanising what God has created to be dignified and uplifted.”
“So what does this means? It means that all of us as leaders must feel a sense of regret and have sober reflection on what we have done or what we have not done to bring this about to our own people”, Mr. Obasanjo said.
Meanwhile, the former president charged officials of the NIS to imbibe the culture of training, professionalism, integrity, honesty, loyalty, and service in the discharge of their constitutional duty.
Earlier in his speech, Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Interior, Jagaba Adams noted that the National Assembly opposed the outsourcing of services by the NIS, saying 99.9 per cent of such contracts are “null and void.”
The lawmaker explained that those services lacked the approval of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, and they are being used as avenues to milk Nigeria.
He said the assembly would soon pass a resolution and direct the presidency to henceforth stop outsourcing of services.
“So, this corruption process must stop. It may not be now, it be maybe after this CG has gone. But, I am so sure that 9 days for the thief, one day for owner,” Mr. Jagaba said.
In his opening address, Comptroller – General of NIS, Muhammad Babandede, said that the service is committed to safe and regular migration in order to prevent the sad stories of loss of lives and resources of Nigerian citizens and foreigners.
He warned travel agencies, individuals and officers in passport offices at various borders who are engaged in smuggling of migrants to desist, adding that anybody found wanting would be made to face the law.
Mr. Babandede disclosed that starting from January, 2018, the National Identity Number, NIN, would be part of requirements for the issuance of Nigerian passports.
He noted that the aim of the conference was to review the service’s activities and the e- passport system, after 10 years of its introduction in order to improve the services rendered.