Shell Energy Entrepreneurs banner Yudala banner
What is the worth of a Nigerian migrant’s life?

By ’Fisayo Soyombo on 20/11/2017

Share on facebook Yahoo mail icon Gmail icon

Views: 391

•Fisayo Soyombo
•Fisayo Soyombo

In April, a former Nigerian public official lost his daughter under questionable circumstances. The young lady’s death was avoidable. Who knows, maybe her spirit is already haunting the United Kingdom hospital and another one in Nigeria. A hospital in Birmingham misdiagnosed her condition; the one in Nigeria performed surgery on her without having a life-support machine. When her condition deteriorated post-surgery, the hospital could not artificially ventilate her heart. As a result, she died.

I was hurting to read about that needless loss of life: anyone should. A premature death is hurtful enough, but an avoidable one is shattering. In seven months of this tragedy, the father has written two public notes on his grief. One could tell he deeply loved his daughter. In the latter, he talks of bereavement hallucination and its redemptive and therapeutic powers. It is clear that this father will not get over his daughter’s death anytime soon; it is an agony no one should experience.

In that same piece, he urges the government to “grade and classify” hospitals as “first, second and third tier; the same way banks are categorised in Nigeria”. He wants a first-tier hospital to have “an agreed high standard of medical equipment installed and top-quality personnel working there” so that “patrons can know the level of service to expect when attending any hospital based on its classification as first, second or third tier”. To rewrite his thoughts, the rich should be able to patronise truly first-class hospitals; the poor can settle for the second or third-tier. Or, who would third-tier hospitals serve? The rich? First-tier hospitals will care for first-tier lives; third-tier hospitals for third-tier lives. But this is not where I am going.

Twenty-six ‘third-tier’ lives

Two weeks ago, 26 Nigerian “third-tier” lives perished at sea, while attempting to cross the Mediterranean from the north coast of Africa. All 26 were women, two of them even pregnant. This wasn’t the first time that Nigerian migrants would die, or the first time the public would get a sniff of their travails while on the risky sail in search of green pastures. Anyone interested in knowing the grim dangers of the average migrant’s journey should please google ‘Europe by Desert: Tears of African Migrants’. Thank me for the link if you wish, but you should compulsorily thank Emmanuel Mayah, the writer, one of the most daring journalists to ever emerge from Africa. At a great risk to his life, Mayah went undercover for 37 days with illegal migrants, travelling across seven countries in an attempt to cross the Sahara Desert. On his return, he documented the dangers involved in such journeys: rape, armed robbery, fraud, blood oaths, hunger, dehydration, death.

That was in 2009. Eight years after, very little has changed. Year-on-year, migrants keep dying in their thousands: from the hundreds of thousands who’d rather die than remain on the continent. This year alone, 150,985 have arrived in Southern Europe via North Africa, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM); 2,639 others died while trying to.

In May, Nigerians were among the 44 migrants to have died of thirst, after their truck broke down in the Sahara Desert in northern Niger while en route to Libya, where they were to cross to Europe. Ghana was the only other nation represented in that tragedy. In August, Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO), quoting data from the IOM, said Nigerians formed the majority of the 1,500 migrants to have died in the first seven months of 2017. Both NIDO and IOM have always acknowledged that these figures are an underestimation of migration casualties; it is never easy to account for deaths in the desert, at sea, and at the various stages of an illegal trip.

Migrant casualties are literally an everyday affair, but the latest round is generating above-usual notice for various reasons. This is one of the very few cases where Italian officials are suspecting that migrants were deliberately murdered after they had been sexually assaulted. An investigation is already ongoing and five people are in detention already. The nature of this investigation has to be harped on: Italy is investigating the death of 26 Nigerians who tried to enter Italy illegally. Given the circumstances, it is under no obligation to do so. Italy also gave dignity to the migrants, organising a burial ceremony for them, even going ahead to place a picture and an information card with copies of dental scans and a list of traits like tattoos and scars “that might someday be used to identify the victim if a family member ever comes looking.”

Migrant’s life doesn’t count

In all this, the Nigerian government was conspicuously absent. The girls were buried without Nigerian presence at the solemn ceremony. Meanwhile, the Embassy of Nigeria in Rome has been sleeping: no interest in the investigations into the cause of the deaths. On the day the 26 were buried, Geoffrey Onyeama, the Foreign Affairs Minister, was quiet. Meanwhile, when Nigeria beat Argentina in a World Cup friendly three days earlier, he was quick to pen a congratulatory message to the Super Eagles, announcing: “Russia, here we come!”

Okay, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, SSA to the President on Foreign Relations and Diaspora, issued a statement describing the death of the girls as “avoidable and preventable… tragic and lamentable... just not worth it ultimately.” But to know what she truly feels, look no further than her Twitter engagement with those implicitly blaming the tragedy on the government. When one person tweets: “Everybody is trying hard to blame the govt for their death, as if they were sent on a mission by the govt,” Dabiri-Erewa re-tweets. When another berates the Federal Government for its absence at the interment, she asks if the Nigerian mission was “duly informed of the time, date and venue.” Finally, as contained in the press release, and as she generously argued on Twitter, Dabiri-Erewa believes the solution to persistent migrant deaths is to educate Nigerians on the dangers of such journeys. Absolutely not!

Talk to anyone in Edo - the state with the highest contribution to Nigeria’s migrant population – and you will hear that migrants are well-aware of the risks. The problem is that they’re in so much suffering already that they wonder if death can be any worse. There is something migrants are running away from; and unless the government addresses it, more deaths are bound to happen. What they are chasing after are the simple things of life: food, shelter, clothing, employment, dignity, a sense of belonging in their own country. Only people who have experienced the lack of these basics can understand and interpret the frustrations of migrants.

The ex-public official who lost his daughter, for example, was failed by the health system. Seven months after, he hasn’t healed. Now, consider a poor Nigerian who has been failed numerous times by the health system, uncountable times by the job industry, many times by the education system. Imagine the travails of a man who has lost his wife because he couldn’t afford first-tier health-care, whose children are out of school because he couldn’t pay their fees; whose family has been thrown out by his landlord because he could not pay his rent. Many years of multiple frustrations will convince him that there is better life abroad, and he’d rather die trying to get it than remain in penury in Nigeria.

Blood on their hands

In case Nigerian public officials do not know, many of them are culpable for the death of these migrants. By their daily abdication of their responsibilities to take decisions in public interest, by filling their pockets at the expense of building the structures that could have kept the dead migrants back in the country, by constantly travelling abroad and experiencing the way normal societies work yet failing to replicate the same at home, by their blithe contempt for the life of the common man so long they and their families are sorted, so many Nigerian public office holders - not all - have blood on their hands. The migrant’s life doesn’t mean a thing to the government, but no problem; karma hasn’t stopped being a bitch!

•Fisayo Soyombo, Editor of the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), tweets @fisayosoyombo

Source News Express

Posted 20/11/2017 7:13:46 PM

 

Share on facebook Yahoo mail icon Gmail icon


 

CLASSIFIED ADS

Let us build the most comprehensive online database of worthy and credible Nigerians from all walks of life. It is worth doing!

Loss Off Your Belly Fats, Upper Arm Fat and Body Fats In 2weeks Time.. Click HERE To Start Now!

 

You may also like...
Face of a runaway criminal: The story of...

Enugu Assembly passes amended Basic Education Law

Troops mop up Dikwa, environs

Lagos APC members protest imposition

It will be yet another sunny and hazy...

Buhari sends N465.6 billion Supplementary Budget to National...

Abuja bomb blast: Obiano condoles victims’ families, proffers...

Udom warns enemies of progress, preaches unity at...

How Police, DSS manhandled Governor Wike in show...

Another tragedy hits Nigerian journalism as careless driver...

196 pregnant women in Kaduna test HIV positive...

Arsenal prepares world record bid for Mpabbe

 

Latest News Gas explosion kills Rotary Club President Manufacturers seek patent for generator that does not use fuel or gas UN Security Council may over-rule US on Jerusalem SERAP queries Buhari over $1bn Boko Haram fund Taraba Governor raises alarm over plan to attack state The highest bidder won 2017 Anambra governorship election — South East CLO •Says democracy in danger Tinubu declares opposition dead in Oyo State PDP, APGA bicker over court verdict on Anambra Central Senate seat ‘Love Jihad’: Outrage as Indian court issues tough guidelines on religious conversions, inter-faith marriages Prof. Akin Oyebode’s ‘Exogural’ at 70, By Tony Iyare Buhari at 75: Why God kept him alive, By Femi Adesina ECOWAS Heads of State meet in Abuja

 

Most Read Nigerian female sex addict opens up, says ‘I like it with both men and women’ (301,948 views) NUDE PHOTO OF OMOTOLA JALADE-EKEINDE surfaces online (286,739 views) Shameless Genevieve Nnaji exposes breasts in public (231,464 views) Finally named: The full list of friends of Nigerian female sex addict who prowled Facebook (194,012 views) Igbo scholar disgraces Femi Fani-Kayode •Demolishes claims on Igbo/Yoruba history with facts and figures (183,783 views) OLUMBA OLUMBA OBU (the one who called himself God) IS DEAD (170,958 views) Breaking News: POPULAR REVEREND CONVERTS TO ISLAM in Kaduna (Nigeria) (147,678 views) THE FINAL DISGRACE: Igbo scholar unleashes more facts about Igbo/Yoruba history, finishes off Femi Fani-Kayode with second article (132,818 views) OBJ’s son reported dead in Lagos plane crash •Names of more victims emerge (131,046 views) Lagos plane crash: Journalist releases victims’ names (119,490 views) Gunmen kill ASP, 2 other police officers in vain bid to kidnap Rivers PDP chieftain (115,866 views) My wasted years in Olumba Olumba Obu’s Evil Brotherhood (112,684 views)

 

Categories Advertorials (3) African Press Organisation (81) Art & Literature (33) Business (2,825) Business Verdict (30) Columnists (779) Complaints & Requests (94) Enterprise & Opportunities (195) Entertainment (421) Features (528) Global Business Monitor (198) International (1,694) Interviews (138) Live Commentary (28) Love Matters (93) News (31,088) Opinion (845) Pidgin (9) Politics (4,227) Religion (654) Sports (1,382) Stock Watch (25) AMA & Al Jazeera Global Update

 

CBN Banner advert

CBN Words on marble

 

 

MOBO Awards

 

APO Group Partner

 

CLASSIFIED ADS

Let us build the most comprehensive online database of worthy and credible Nigerians from all walks of life. It is worth doing!

Loss Off Your Belly Fats, Upper Arm Fat and Body Fats In 2weeks Time.. Click HERE To Start Now!

GOCOP Accredited Member

GOCOP Accredited member

 

 

Africa Media Agency and Al Jazeera

Advertisement



 

 

CLASSIFIED ADS

Loss Off Your Belly Fats, Upper Arm Fat and Body Fats In 2weeks Time.. Click HERE To Start Now!

Let us build the most comprehensive online database of worthy and credible Nigerians from all walks of life. It is worth doing!