Recently, media reports were awash with the story of the deportation of about 120 Nigerians by the United Kingdom (UK). The affected Nigerians were said to have been deported by the British immigration authorities on March 19 for non-possession of valid travel documents and work permits, among other required documents.
Most of the forced returnees who were young men and women narrated their harrowing experiences in the UK before they were hurriedly flown home. According to them, they were picked up either at work or on the streets and dragged to the airport to board a cargo flight to Lagos without being allowed to take any of their vital belongings.
But contrary to the initial reports, the UK authorities have clarified that 53 and not 120 Nigerians were deported and that the deportation followed due process. The affected Nigerians were made to face some migration-related panels and went through legal appeals, before their eventual deportation.
This position has also been corroborated by the Nigerian High Commission in London which said that the processes, up to deportation level, were monitored by its senior officials. It also said that those Nigerians were removed from the UK due to the fact that they overstayed their visas or have completed their prison terms.
Furthermore, the deportation of Nigerians from the UK is covered by a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Migration Returns signed by both countries a few years back.
Whatever may be the case, the deportation is a warning to those Nigerians that travel out without the required entry documents and work permits. The deportation will serve as a clarion call to the Nigerian authorities to develop the country industrially and halt the increasing exodus of her youths to other climes in search of greener pastures. Nigeria is richly endowed with enough human and material resources to develop all the sectors of the economy and create jobs for its army of unemployed youths.
It is a pity that in spite of the huge resources at our disposal, our leaders have failed woefully to make the country a happy one for its citizens. In fact, the government has a responsibility to open up the productive base of the economy in order to stem the rising tide of youth joblessness which encourages unnecessary migration and brain drain.
If this is done, the craze to travel abroad among Nigerians will be drastically reduced. It is most unfortunate that these youths leave Nigeria without knowing the unpredictable future that awaits them elsewhere.
In fact, experience has shown that some Nigerians outside would have fared better in Nigeria if they had remained in the country. The fact is that there is no country on earth whose streets are paved with gold. In other words, there is no place where people pick money on the streets.
We enjoin Nigerians, especially the youths, to stop the mad rush to travel outside to do menial jobs that ordinarily they would not do at home. The country has enough resources to make it an industrial giant. All that is needed is pragmatic leadership vision that will propel such economic transformation. This is the time to turn the energy of our youths into high productivity. Let those in charge of the economy put their thinking caps and put the Nigerian house in order.
The government should sit up and make the country attractive so that our youths will not have the excuse to be leaving Nigeria en masse. Nigeria is our only country; we should all work to make it better. Leaving our shores in droves to other developed lands will not solve the problem.
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