A Tragic Desperation

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The desperate means some Nigerians, especially the youths, are adopting to escape to  foreign lands in search of greener pastures, is worrisome. Something urgent must be done  to correct the false impression that in South Africa, Europe or America, everything is  milk and honey.

Last Saturday, for instance, a Nigerian youth hid in the wheel-well of Arik Air’s  aircraft in Lagos in an attempt to get to South Africa. But he never made it. He died in  the process and his dead body was discovered when the A330 aircraft landed in Lagos in  the wee hours of Monday. The plane had left South Africa on Sunday night for Lagos.

There were speculations that the deceased was helped by some security officials in Lagos  to access the aircraft  before passengers boarded it and hid there until it took off.  Pilots and aeronautical engineers familiar with the compartment were flabbergasted,  explaining that it is roomy enough to contain a human being.

The lack of oxygen in the compartment, they said, means that anybody that hid there  cannot come out alive after several hours of flight.

It was argued that the body was not discovered in Johannesburg because the airline  usually does a quick turnaround back to Lagos the following day.

“As we climb high, the temperature becomes low, getting below freezing level when the  aircraft is cruising between 35,000 to 40,000 feet above sea level. The guy probably died  due to lack of oxygen,” an expert said. Whatever the explanation, a precious life has  been lost because of desperation and ignorance. The facts are there to show that life is  becoming very hard in America, South Africa or Europe.

In the United States for instance, reports suggest that the ranks of the working-age poor  have climbed to the highest level since the 1960s due to a global recession that has  thrown millions of people out of work since last year.  Reports say the situation over  there is so bad that one out of seven Americans now live in poverty.

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The unemployment rate in that country is now near 10 percent. The overall poverty rate  there has climbed to 14.3 percent, or 43.6 million people, the U.S. Census Bureau said  recently in its annual economic report. Yet, America is the place to be for deluded  Nigerian and African youths.

In France, the unemployment rate has reached record levels and many Europeans are daily  being deported by the French authorities. The unending deportations have created some  frictions between France and Germany, with Germany excoriating France for being callous  and insensitive. In Greece, the situation became so critical that there were daily street  protests. Jobs became hard to come by and ordinary Greeks were looking for food to eat.  The country has now been bailed out and salaries have been slashed. Foreigners now find  it very difficult to get jobs.

In South Africa, many foreigners were attacked last year by South Africans who felt that  jobs were going to foreigners. Many Nigerians were among the victims of the xenophobic  attacks that left many dead. Even this year, many South Africans still took to the  streets to show their exasperation over lack of jobs and worsening poverty.

Our youths must come to terms with the fact that life abroad is as hard as life in  Nigeria. And even for those who reach Europe or America and live there legally, there is  hardly anything they can save to justify the hard work after many years. With so many  taxes and so much discrimination, it is so difficult to save money, build or buy a house  and feel at home abroad. Most Nigerians abroad still feel like second-class citizens and  cannot reach the same level of satisfaction that they will reach in Nigeria. Whether they  are government or in the private sector abroad, most of them are still discriminated  against.

The solution to our problems can hardly be found abroad. In any case, a lazy man in  Nigeria cannot be hard working in America. We do not need to be in America to succeed. We  can succeed in Nigeria. We can be happy in Nigeria. We can be fulfilled here at home if  we are ready to go the extra mile.

But, it is worthy of note that Nigerian youths move to foreign lands daily because the  government has failed them. With the high level of insecurity and lack of basic  infrastructure, most people have lost faith in this country and are even ready to face  hell instead of slowly dying at home. But the solution is not to leave Nigeria, rather it  is to fix it.

We call on the Nigerian government to wake up and do the right thing by reducing  insecurity in the land, fixing our healthcare, education, power sector, etc. and making  Nigeria conducive again for the economy to thrive. Only then, will youths feel confident  again about Nigeria and would want to stay instead of flying to unknown places and dying  in the process. Instead of embarking on a trip to ignorance, they will know that they can  count on their government to deliver at home what the golden fleece they are scurrying  abroad to get.