The recent phenomenon of slave trade and human trafficking that have seen thousands of Nigerians being repatriated especially from Libya has gotten President Muhammadu Buhari blaming European countries for human trafficing scourge across the world, especially as it affects Africa.
He also expressed disappointment with western countries over delay, or outright refusal, to repatriate more stolen funds stashed in their countries, by ex-Nigerian government officials.
Reports from sources at the just-concluded fifth African Union/European Union Summit in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire indicate that the president said for there to be a halt to human trafficking as well as curb the deaths of desperate migrants as its currently being seen in Libya, the EU must work more diligently with the African AU, to bring normalcy to Libya and for the EU to be more forthcoming with humanitarian aid and other forms of assistance to countries directly affected by the menace and by terrorism.
At the bilateral meeting with German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, where the issue of stemming the tide of illegal migration of Nigerians to Europe took the front burner, Buhari said a process has been put in motion for the negotiation of new agreements that may open doors of migration and also lead to reducing illegal migration.
Under this agreement, according to one of the sources, close to 4,000 Nigerians may be given scholarships as well as skills and vocational training for illegal migrants before they are brought back home.
The president further declared that the single most important investment needed for growth in Nigeria and Africa is to grow and develop the economies in ways that will provide jobs for the youths.
“Without jobs, even educated youths become vulnerable to forms of extremism, ranging from joining the ranks of terrorists to risking their lives, migrating to Europe, through the ‘sea of sand that is the Sahara and the unforgiving waters of the mediterranean.’ We must declare this era of African industrialisation for this must be the primary goal of all AU members,” he stated and advised that future AU-EU summits must be dedicated to this goal until it is achieved.
On stolen funds trapped in Europe, Buhari expressed displeasure over delay in seding them back to Nigeria.
He reiterated that the funds will go a long way in assisting the country build the much-needed infrastructure and create jobs for youth, as well as discourage those embarking on risky journeys through the Sahara Desert and mediterranean, enroute Europe.
The president, said sources privy to what transpired at the bilateral meetings with some western leaders on the sidelines of the summit, disclosed that he was particularly unhappy that African countries are being blamed for illegal migrants taking dangerous routes to Europe.
In 2016, in New York, on the margins of United Nations General Assembly, Buhari asked Switzerland to urgently release Nigeria’s stolen funds.
He had, at a meeting with his Swiss counterpart, Johann Schneider-Ammann, said Nigeria needed such resources, particularly for infrastructure.
The president had, in response to former United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron describing Nigeria as a “fantastically corrupt” country, said he did not want an apology but repatriation of looted funds.