By Emmanuel Onwubiko
“If you are too defend freedom and human rights, we must neutralize this risk.”
-Pope Benedict XVI.
Bola Ahmed Tinubu made the All Progressives Congress’s national women’s leader Miss Betta Edu his humanitarian Affairs and poverty alleviation minister.
There is nothing to suggest that this Cross Rivers State born medical doctor is not qualified for one of the most troubled cabinet level positions. Troubled because in the immediate past administration, the office of ministry of humanitarian affairs was used allegedly to siphon public funds running into billions of dollars. That office fed ghost school children during Covid-19 affliction when all of us including our school kids were at home for months of lockdown just as millions of primary school kids left their immediate environment on holidays in different parts and so weren’t in one place to be fed. By the way, movements were highly restricted. However, to our shock, the then Minister claimed to have fed ghosts in the name of pupils to the tune of billions of Naira and since May 29th that she left with her infamous and notoriously corrupt boss-Major General Muhammadu Buhari, the current t government just refused to revisit the many allegations trailing that ministry under the last 8 years of Buhari’s infamy called government.
But one troubling scenario is that the beautiful lady prefers too much noise than focusing on her arduous task. She is becoming the Humanitarian Affairs minister at a time that the greater chunk of young Nigerians have left our shores in search of greener pastures in Europe through risky backdoor channels. She must neutralise this risk, as posited by the late Pope Benedict XVI in his scholarly book titled “Values in a time of upheaval.”
The hundreds of thousands of Nigerian youngsters who are out of Nigeria, have embarked on very dangerous irregular migration through different deadly routes controlled by human traffickers such as trekking through the Sahara deserts to get into Tunisia or Libya before embarking on another deadly travels through dingy boats into Europe. Many have perished. So this is not a thematic area of government for habitual noise-makers but for deep thinkers and hard working bureaucrats or technocrat determined to change the negative trajectory.
So, as you can see, the young humanitarian affairs minister has her job well cut out, meaning she will have less time for frivolities. However, she has inundated us with loads of noise in the media signifying nothing but utopia.
So, she must stop the channel noise and concentrate on the task ahead of her by finding ways and means to waging relentless media campaigns against irregular migration and reaching out to hundreds of thousands of young Nigerians in Cypus, Italy, Libya, Tunisia who are stranded in between the hard Rock and the deep blue seas of Mediterranean.
I will narrate what Pope Francis said about migrants so we know how strategic the ministry of humanitarian affairs, is. Then we will see one story of the killing in the most gruesome of ways, of a Nigerian migrant in the street of Italy by a White man. The Holy father had made a moving speech about migrants during the closing a meeting of bishops and young people from around the Mediterranean in the French port city of Marseille, he added that migration is “a reality of our times, a process that involves three continents around the Mediterranean and that must be governed with wise foresight, including a European response”.
The pope’s remarks – given in front of President Emmanuel Macron, whose government plans tougher measures to control migration – follow his insistence on arrival in France Friday that “people who are at risk of drowning when abandoned on the waves must be rescued”.
The pope also appeared to weigh in on French domestic politics, targeting two of Macron’s projects in assisted dying and inscribing the right to abortion in the constitution.
Old people risk being “pushed aside, under the false pretences of a supposedly dignified and ‘sweet’ death that is more ‘salty’ than the waters of the sea,” Francis warned.
He also spoke of “unborn children, rejected in the name of a false right to progress, which is instead a retreat into the selfish needs of the individual”.
‘Give us back a little hope’
The Vélodrome stadium in France’s second city will be packed with almost 60,000 people for the pope’s visit later on Saturday, while as many as 100,000 lined the Avenue du Prado for his “popemobile” tour ahead of the mass.
Francky Domingo, a Beninese man who heads a group of undocumented migrants in Marseille, said he hoped the pontiff’s visit would “give us back a little hope” and “calm the political tensions”.
The Mediterranean port is a “cosmopolitan, multicultural, multireligious” hub but “faces huge difficulties, drug trafficking that costs human lives every day, the problem of housing”, Domingo added.
Around 40 people have been killed in shootings in Marseille this year, and President Emmanuel Macron has promised billions of euros to upgrade city infrastructure in a bid to stop the downward spiral.
But not everyone has welcomed the Pope’s visit.
Some politicians on the left have criticised Macron’s decision to attend Saturday’s mass as an infringement of state secularism.
Others on the right have attacked Francis for “interfering” in domestic politics.
The migration debate has been stoked by mass arrivals on the Italian island of Lampedusa last week.
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin – who greeted the pope on his arrival – has vowed not to take in a single one.
‘Must be rescued’
Francis’ first stop in Marseille was the city’s landmark Notre Dame de la Garde church, where sailors have traditionally prayed for protection, and model ships given in thanks hang from the ceiling.
At a monument overlooking city rooftops and the glinting Mediterranean, the pontiff insisted that “people who are at risk of drowning when abandoned on the waves must be rescued”.
In unprepared remarks added at the end of his speech, the pope thanked aid groups rescuing migrants in danger at sea, condemning efforts to prevent their activity as “gestures of hate”.
François Thomas, president one such group, SOS Mediterranée, was grateful for the papal backing. Not too many powerful European leaders are pleased with the Pope’s intervention. In England, the Conservative Party has rolled out stringent policies on the treatment of migrants into UK.
Recently, the UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman travelled to Washington to meet with the heads of the Department of Justice and Homeland Security as she seeks support for the British government’s hardline anti-migration push.
Braverman met Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and Attorney General Merrick Garland as part of a three-day visit to discuss measures to stop the flow of migrants illegally entering the UK and to tackle organized immigration crime, the Home Office said. She is due to “present a blueprint for how other countries can combat this crisis,” the department said in a statement.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Braverman have sought to demonstrate a tough line on migration with their promise to “stop the boats bringing migrants across the English Channels from France.”
The campaign involves trying to house some migrants on a barge moored off the southern coast, a move ministers say both reduces accommodation costs and acts as a deterrent.
Braverman is also seeking to overcome a multitude of legal challenges holding up her plan to deport migrants illegally entering the country to special camps in Rwanda where asylum applications can be processed.
“Illegal migration and the unprecedented mass movement of people across the globe is placing unsustainable pressures on Ameri-ca, the UK, and Europe,” Braverman said in a statement. In a keynote speech to be delivered on Tuesday, she intends to show how the UK “has led the way in tackling migration,” the Home Office said.
The number of pending asylum applications in the UK amounted to 133,607 as of the end of March. Three of every four pending applications have been awaiting an initial decision for more than six months.
A pivotal moment for the Conservative Party may come when the Supreme Court decides whether the Rwanda deportation program is unlawful. The case, which comes after the lower Court of Appeal declared the policy breaches human rights, is due to be heard in early October, with a judgment expected in late November or early December.
Meanwhile, there’s a renewed push from the Conservative Party right flank to leave the European Convention on Human Rights. Braverman is one of several cabinet members who would support such a move, people familiar with their thinking said. She has repeatedly said the ECHR undermines British democracy, while other influential Tories such as David Frost have been explicit in their demands. Many youngsters who left Nigeria through irregular and dangerous routes are not facing good times in their host European nations. Most of them are simply put on the plane and flown back. Someone has just been murdered for being a Nigerian in Italy.
Last week, one Italian murderer, Mr. Ferlazzo, was sentenced to 24 years in prison for beating a Nigerian, Alika Ogorchukwu, to death.
Ferlazzo, committed the murder on July 30, 2022, at confirmed at the time by the Nigerian Embassy, Rome, Italy.
At the Marche Region, Ogorchukwu a physically challenged, was on the street when Ferlazzo and a female companion were passing by. In a bid to solicit and draw their attention to his wares that he displayed, the Nigerian touched the Italian’s hand, an action which enraged the Italian and led him into launching a vicious attack, “using the crutches Ogorchukwu was using to walk to beat him to death” Chairman/CEO Diaspora Commission, Dabiri-Erewa, disclosed.
Mrs Abike Dabiri said that Several passersby did not intervene but were instead seen making videos of the attack, drawing widespread reaction from Nigerians and other people around the World.
The Nigerian embassy in Rome, Italy, described murder”, then collaborated with relevant Italian authorities to ensure justice was served and to provide succour to the family of the deceased. The occurrence as “brutal
“The Convict bagged a 24-year jail term on Wednesday”, Dabiri-Erewa said.
In Nigeria, to demonstrate the severity of the humanitarian crisis confronting us as a nation, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says the sum of $270 million has been earmarked to support Nigeria’s poverty alleviation and humanitarian response efforts.
NAN reports that Rhoda Iliya, deputy director of information, ministry of humanitarian affairs and poverty alleviation, disclosed this in a statement on Tuesday.
Iliya said Cristian Munduate, UNICEF representative in Nigeria, made the pledge when she visited Betta Edu, the minister of humanitarian affairs and poverty alleviation, in Abuja.
Munduate said the funds will be used to build a national humanitarian situation room or an emergency operation centre for crisis management.
“UNICEF also assured the minister of their commitment to providing technical support towards building capacity of the ministry’s staff to achieve its mandate,” she said.
“We will also support the development of a humanitarian response protocol for Nigeria to guide all humanitarian actors as this will facilitate effective coordination.
“We will support the establishment of a national humanitarian situation room or Humanitarian Emergency Operation Centre (H-EOC) to monitor, mitigate and prevent humanitarian emergencies and build resilience in the system.”
On her part, the Nigerian humanitarian affairs minister engaged in meaningless noise when she said the federal government is committed to lifting over 100 million Nigerians out of poverty. She has no strategy verifiable enough to justify this empty blabbing.
Her words:“The federal government of President Bola Tinubu is committed to lifting 133 million poor Nigerians out of poverty in a phased approach,” she said.
“Especially the 71 million extremely poor Nigerians who live under one dollar ninety-five cents a day.
“Time is of essence and we need to run at the speed of light to roll out social programs that will bring relief to the poor.
“Nigerians are eagerly waiting for full implementation of the renewed hope agenda and the time for intense action is now.”
The minister added that the government is determined to collaborate with other development partners to achieve its plans.
Madam minister, please face your work and stop the noise. Campaign time is over. This is time for real work and Nigeria is a big theatre of monumental and significant humanitarian crises. We can’t afford to watch you keep generating media noise for another 4 years whilst millions of internally displaced citizens wallow in penury and hundreds of thousands of young Nigerians continue to embark on risky backdoor journeys into Europe because Nigeria has been made the most dangerous nation to live in the World largely due to corruption by successive governments.
*EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA and was NATIONAL COMMISSIONER OF THE NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION OF NIGERIA.