She said if not aggressively tackled, the situation, which was already forcing victims into prostitution and different forms of crime...
Oduah told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Monday that the development was a dangerous trend that should be treated with the seriousness it deserved by all African leaders.
She said if not aggressively tackled, the situation, which was already forcing victims into prostitution and different forms of crime, could lead to more heinous crimes that may be difficult to handle.
Oduah said that the present trend was more worrisome because the victims, in most cases, willingly embarked on the dangerous journey and ended up being sold into slavery.
According to her, it is something no one contemplates should happen to anyone in the present age.
“You will think that slave trade having been abolished all these centuries should not start again, clearly not from Africa.
“You wonder what would have made a young man or woman to commence on such trip that is so suicidal. You do not know what is at the other side but not deterred to take that journey.
“It is a very frightening thing for anybody to think about, but worst part is that the young men and women doing it appear to be bent on doing so.
“Unfortunately, they do so because they see it as an avenue of survival and a way of getting to a greener pasture,’’ she said.
The lawmaker called on all African leaders to rise to the occasion by creating enabling environment that would discourage their citizens from embarking on such dangerous journeys.
She also called on the Federal Government to put adequate measures in place to create employment, particularly for the teeming youth, who form majority of those embarking on the dangerous greener pasture-seeking journeys.
“Most of them I am sure are graduates and even if they are not, they are healthy people and so, we must think outside the box on how we can provide for them, at least to ensure that they have access to reasonable employment.
“Unless we do that, it may continue and even get worse.
“The agency on employment should be innovative on how these youths can be gainfully employed otherwise it is a time bomb waiting to explode.
“When you have this demography and they constitute more than 40 per cent of the total population and they are hungry and idle, they will find a means of survival,’’ she said.
On efforts to arrest and prosecute traffickers, Oduah, who is also the Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Women Affairs, said it was necessary.
She, however, expressed reservations with the notion that most of the victims were being trafficked.
“I do not believe that an adult, past 17 years, can be trafficked. I think they must have seen it as a means of getting greener pastures.
“If they are below 12, I would say yes, they are forced but as an adult, I do not think so.
“I blame the society for not creating an environment that would have given them the opportunity to work, to survive and to be responsible persons.
“Another thing is parental factor; there is also the factor of greed when you believe it is greener in another man’s house as opposed to yours.
“But I think the primary responsibility should go to government and all of us in leadership.
“We should be held responsible for not doing enough to create jobs for these younger people,” she said.
On activities of National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Oduah said it was addressing more of the symptoms rather than tackling the cause.
“Why don’t we stop it before it starts?
“While it is important to increase funding for NAPTIP, I think the only thing that will help eradicate the menace is to create jobs, real jobs and not on the pages of newspapers.’’
She called for intensified advocacy by all stakeholders to enable victims know the dangers of illegal migration, which now led to slavery.