Tales of woes from greener pastures
CHUKWUKA Ibezim (pseudonym) is a young man with high ambition about life. When he completed his West African Senior School Certificate Examination in Awo Idemili, in Orsu Local Government Area of Imo State in 2010, he did not want to while away his time in the village because his parents could not afford to send him to the university to further his education.
So, Chumwuka left his village for Lagos to serve a master and learn trading from one of his kinsmen dealing on electronics.
In 2015, he was free apprenticeship and his master paid for a shop for him at Alaba Market where Chukwuka started his own business. In less than three years, Chukwuka opened another shop at Alaba International Market, Lagos.
However, Chukwuka was not satisfied by the ‘little’ progress he was making in his business. Each time he returned home for Christmas, he would see many of his mates riding in the latest cars and new mansions. Most of them claimed to have ‘made it’ from Malaysia or Indonesia.
So, following constant complaints to friends, a friend introduced him to a travel agent and he was persuaded into going abroad to make it big.
He sold his two electronics shops in Alaba Market to pursue his dream of striking it rich in Indonesia.
Upon his arrival in Jakarta, Indonesia, life became a tale of hopelessness and indeed one big hell, for Chukwuka. Indeed, a rude shock awaited him. He discovered to his dismay that all the promises made by the travel agent were false. Thus, he was left in the dilemma of adjusting to the unfortunate situation or returning home.
Almost two years of living a hellish life in Malaysia, Chukwuka eventually decided to make a video of his ugly situation in Indonesia and posted same on social media.
In the viral video, he begged for assistance from members of the public, especially the Igbo to enable him to escape the wrath of the Indonesian government.
Three months after the viral video, RARDUJA International, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) stumbled on the viral video and decided to find out the authenticity of his claims.
The NGO first attended to his basic yearning, by providing him with some money for food, before Chukwuka was eventually repatriated and reunited with his family.
At a reception organised for Chukwuka in Owerri, the Imo State capital, founder of RARDUJA, Eddy Duru urged the Nigerian government to formulate policies that would lessen the unbridled youth’s migration abroad.
Duru revealed that thousands of Nigerian youths mostly from Imo, Edo, Kogi, Benue, Lagos, Oyo and Rivers states are languishing in jail and suffering from several kinds of ill-treatments in Europe, America and Asian countries.
He said: “In 2016, over 602, 000 youths embarked on irregular migration out of this country and about 27, 000 of them died in the sea and desert. Many were sold into slavery, many into prostitution and drug peddling, while several others were wasting away in detention. Currently, over 50, 000 youths are in similar situations now.”
Duru, represented by the Public Relations Officer of the group, Eustace Okeke also solicited partnership and assistance aimed at rescuing, resuscitating and reintegrating people such as Chukwuka into society.
“We look forward to the government setting up an advisory board on migration issues at all levels to look into problems emanating from irregular migration and human trafficking.”
While revealing that the whole arrangements of getting Chukwuka out of Indonesia and reuniting him with his family cost the NGO some fortune, Duru called on the Imo State government and the Chairman of Orsu Local Government Area, where Chukwuka hails from, to quickly wade into the matter and rehabilitate the young man before he slips into depression.
Duru sensitised the public to the risks and dangers of unplanned journey abroad, which he said had become the order of the day in Nigeria and Africa, due to bad economy, bad governance and insecurity.
He regretted the many deaths of most Nigerian illegal migrants across the Mediterranean Sea and the Sahara Desert.
He said: “We must continue to educate our people on the risks involved in undertaking unplanned journeys abroad.”
The Special Adviser to the Imo State Governor on Diaspora Affairs, Celia Osakwe-Hibbert said the state government would do everything possible to stop the youth from irregular migration through job creation and empowerment.
She hinted that the Office of the Governor on Diaspora Affairs is receptive to issues concerning those who are indigenous to Imo State that are abroad.
Recounting his ordeals, the 33-year-old Chukwuka regretted listening to the advice of the travel agent that convinced him to embark on the journey.
He bemoaned not focusing on his business, saying he was doing well in his electronics business at Alaba International Market, Lagos State, before he opted for the journey to make it big.
According to Chukwuka, many Nigerians in Indonesia were facing the similar challenge, even as he revealed that many are dying in jail daily out of frustration, starvation and harsh treatments.
Chukwuka described his experience as horrible, dehumanising and dreadful.
Uchenna Nwaneri and Constance Nwaeze, 14 who had lived in India and Italy respectively, commended Chukwuka’s courage in his call for help.
They revealed that most Nigerians abroad are suffering from the worse situation but could hardly open up to anyone about their ordeal.
Constance said: “Most Nigerians who migrated abroad and facing hard times, sometimes fake their deaths in order not to heighten the hope of their people on them. I have seen a man who lived here for over 18 years and because of the hellish situation he lived, he decided to send messages across to Nigeria that he was dead. It is as bad as that.
“There is no basis for Nigerians to illegally migrate to other countries for non-existent jobs. Many are suffering over there but they are ashamed to come back home. We see them start from the scratch,” she said.
Uchenna canvassed that there should be awareness about this. “I am coming back home after 38 years of sojourning in another country. I want to come back home and make Nigeria a place worth living,” he said.