The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora matters, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, yesterday said Nigerian youths now migrate to European countries via sea, to seek greener pastures.
This is even as she rallied youths support for President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade.
She spoke at the maiden edition of African Union Economic, Social and Cultural Council Nigeria (ECOSOCC) held at the ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja.
She decried a situation where youths who are well educated and could add value to their country would risk their lives on the sea and desert to cross to another country.
According to her, a large amount of deaths have been recorded as a result of this, hence, the need for youths to rise to their responsibilities as leaders of tomorrow.
Her words: “Nothing is stopping you but yourself. You have young educated graduates drowning at sea trying to cross over from Africa to Europe.
“I have come across graduate, these are not poor people, these are people who have gone to schools and then you decide that you can only get life by seeking hope in hopelessness by going through the desert, Niger, Chad, half of them die before they get to Libya anyway, some get to Libya many times and even get killed as black immigrants all because you want to get to Europe and then you find that one is a challenge and failure of leadership in Africa.
“I was coming from Addis Ababa and I said I want a situation where Europe will be migrating to Africa not Africa migrating to Europe but it calls into question of leadership, we just have to get it right all over Africa and that challenge goes back to the Nigerian youths.
“We brought back a guy from Lybia, he was locked up and was about to be killed by Gaddafi, we brought him back with 24 others,” Dabiri-Erewa said.
While also canvassing support for the President Buhari’s anti-corruption fight, she said the President’s integrity is such that cannot be questioned.
“This is the time to ensure we save ourselves, I will say that we have a President whose integrity cannot be questioned, who is fighting corruption, you need to support him.
“We have to support President Buhari’s fight against corruption, corruption will destroy our future. In fact, it has destroyed a lot of things, let’s save our country now.
“There is no compassion in governance anymore if there is compassion you will know that pension money is not meant to be stolen anymore, but why are people stealing anyhow because there are no sanctions, there is so much corruption, not because Nigerians are poor, not because Nigerians are greedy but because there are no sanctions.
“Now, we have a President that says there must be sanctions, it is going to take a while because the justice system is slow but we have to support him to ensure that those who stole your money go to jail,” she said.
Earlier, former Lagos Youth Commissioner, Michael Bamidele, stressed the importance of youths to the development of a nation.
He state that any government that attempts to ignore the youth or fails to harness their potentials and talents to impact positively on the priorities of that governance is actually doing so at a very grave cost.
“In Nigeria, not fewer that 60 million Nigerian youths are presently unemployed, roaming about the streets and battling with starvation, social neglect, elite exploitation, extreme penury, stagnation and squalor of the highest order,” he said.
He explained that these prevailing circumstances have none-the-less crippled the potentials of Nigerian youths for maximum expression, truncating their dreams and vision for a greater future.
To this end, he urged government at all levels to own up to the responsibility of defending the rights of the youths and also children.