African leaders responsible for 21st Century slave trade – Obasanjo

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By Peter Moses



Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday, said African leaders should reflect on their actions and inactions which had culminated in “slave trade in the 21st Century.”

The former president also ‎condemned what he described as “dehumanising and un-dignifying”, slavery revival in Libya.

Obasanjo stated this at the opening ceremony of the 2017 Annual Conference of the Comptroller-General of Immigration of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), held at the MITROS Residences in Abeokuta, Ogun state.

The conference is “Managing Migration and Facilitating Trade and Development in 21st Century Nigeria: NIS Perspective.”

The Ota farmer expressed concern that slavery had reared its ugly heads, and therefore deserves to be condemned “in the strongest language possible.”

African leaders, Obasanjo said “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.”

Obasanjo said: “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.

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 youths daring to go through the desert.

“Then after, they have made such hazardous journeys, some of them are being sold as slaves in Libya. Africans are being sold by Africans and maybe to Africans, making human beings as instrument merchants, property to be sold and commodity; dehumanising and un-dignifying what God has created to be dignified and uplifted.”

“As if that is not bad enough, these people go further, and many of them find the Mediterranean Sea as a common grave. This means they terminate their lives. Why do they do this? It is because they believe they could get greener pasture elsewhere. What they believe they lack in their own country may be gotten outside their own country.

“So, what does this mean? 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.”

Obasanjo, however, charged the NIS personnel  to imbibe the culture of training, professionalism, integrity, honesty, loyalty, and service in the discharge of their constitutional duty.

In his address, Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Interior, Hon. Jagaba Adams Jagaba, noted that the National Assembly “frowns on the outsourcing of services by the NIS,” saying 99.9 per cent of those contracts were “null and void.”

He said those services lacked the approval of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), as they were being used as avenue to milk Nigerian resources.

The legislator said the Green Chamber would soon pass a resolution directing the Presidency to henceforth stop outsourcing of service, which he noted, served as fertile ground for corruption.

Earlier, NIS Comptroller-General, Muhammad Babandede, said the service was committed to safe and regular migration in order to prevent the sad stories of loss of lives and resources of Nigerian citizens and foreigners.

The NIS boss, however, warned travel agencies, individuals and officers in Passport offices at various borders, who engaged in smuggling of migrants to desist from it, or made to face the wrath of the law.

Babandede also disclosed that starting from January, 2018, National Identity Number (NIN) would be part of requirements for issuance of Nigerian passport.

Governor Ibikunle Amosun, who declared the conference open, also condemned the resurrection of slave trade in Libya, saying African leaders should rise to condemn the act.

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