By Wahab Akanji, Abuja
The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan has warned the Federal Government to take stakes that the current economic challenges facing the country could lead to increase in human trafficking if the government fails to steps to address it.
Onaiyekan said this in Abuja at the Caritas conference on human trafficking within and from Africa.
According to him, the Federal Government would have to do more than just convincing the youths to embrace agriculture in order to reduce the level of poverty in the country.
He said: “It (trafficking) is likely to increase the number of frustrated people who cannot make ends meet. You know by the time you finish university and you are roaming the streets for three, four, five and six years no job and you are becoming 30 or 31 years of age with no future, it is very difficult to sit down quietly.
“Maybe (government) they are telling people to look for other ways of making a living, go to farm but government will have to do a little bit more to make it possible for young people to go to farm or to do other things but to just sit down doing nothing and rotting away is a little bit frustrating. That is what I know
“But like I said immigration to an unknown destination is not the real answer. People say that it can always be better up there. It is not true. It can be worse over there than what you are facing here. At least here you have no winter you can sleep under the bridge. You cannot sleep under the bridge there. You will die of cold.”
Onaiyekan called for strict implementation of the law against trafficking in Nigeria in order to reduce it.
Earlier, the National Director, Caritas Nigeria, Fr. Evaristus Bassey stated that the SDGs provides a platform to address issues of trafficking in Nigeria.
Fr. Bassey, in his presentation titled: “The Sustainable Development Goals and Human Trafficking in Nigeria,” called on government to provide free education for girls up to university level, adding that a properly educated woman would not submit herself to be trafficked.
He said: “The SDG indicators for me provide milestones for the state and other stakeholders to use and examine society and rebuild it with a purpose and seriousness that would eliminate those structures that leave some at the fringes, structures which John Paul II called structures of sin3, the after effect of which Pope Francis calls a throw away culture.
“As this issue of trafficking has become a global embarrassment for Nigeria, it is important to target the key populations in this respect and take measures that would stem the tide of trafficking. Care givers of children especially women should be targeted for full time housewife status benefits; an assessment should also be conducted of girls in these catchment areas who should be monitored to complete secondary education and university education, or put into financial literacy and entrepreneurship programs that would guarantee starter packs for small businesses.
“Indeed free education for girls up to university level should be adopted as a national mitigating measure. A properly educated woman would not submit herself to be trafficked. An investment in education for girls would not only promote Goal 4(education for all) but Goal 5 (gender equality) and Goal10 (reduce inequality) as well.
“Recovered assets should be ploughed into the development of infrastructure, as poor infrastructure and poor access to basic services likely contributes to the great sense of alienation which leads to human trafficking.”