The Archbishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, yesterday, warned the Federal Government that the current economic challenges facing the country could lead to increase in human trafficking in Nigeria. Onaiyekan, who stated this at the Caritas conference on human trafficking within and from Africa, in Abuja, urged the Federal Government to urgently do something to improve the economy. The cleric told the government 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 they (government) 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.” Delivering his paper, entitled: The Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, and Human Trafficking in Nigeria, the National Director, Caritas Nigeria, Fr. Evaristus Bassey, stated that SDGs provided a platform to address issues of trafficking in Nigeria. Fr. Bassey called on governments 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 SDGs 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 sins, the after effect of which Pope Francis called 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.”