In his post, Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on “the Church in Africa,” Pope John Paul II affirmed that the human person was endowed with an inalienable dignity,” received from God through the incarnation of his only Son.”
This implies that no one, apart from God can tamper with such human dignity. As a consequence of this faith fact, the Pope continued.
“Endowed with this extraordinary dignity, people should not live in sub-human social, economic, cultural and political conditions.
“This is the theological foundation of the struggle for the defence of personal dignity, for justice and social peace, for the promotion, liberation and integral human development of all people and of every individual.”
With the African Bishop, the Pope exhorted entire Church in Africa to “continue to exercise her prophetic role and be the voice of the voiceless” in a continent where neo-colonialism, slavery and exploitation of the ignorant masses have taken the local color and languages.
Already, in 1963, Pope XXIII acknowledged that “the Universal Declaration on Human Rights represented an important step on the path towards the juridical political organization of the world community.”
These are pointers to the fact that even the church of Christ on earth, as an institution recognizes the dignity of the human person.
No doubt, man has betrayed the status which the destiny confers on humans by God. The cosmic law has been altered because; man is now seen differently. The society is at a loss when one realizes and begins to reflect on the thoughts which touch on the dignity of man as higher creature in the cosmos.
Much as man is known as a higher being, the tendency to be restored to the lost glory is a driving free to institutionalise measures that tend to restore the dignity of man.
This is more manifest when viewed against the backdrop of what has today been known as Human Trafficking.
Agreed that human trafficking is an old institution which became a more prominent economic venture during and after the trans-Atlantic slave trade when humans became the object of trade.
Though the so called abolition of slave to press the abolition further trade provided some sort of respite, the complacency of members of the society to press the abolition further has led to its a re-enactment and a redefinition of mode of practice to the extent that a driving force for the trade to thrive has become the immediate benefit.
Today, it appears that human trafficking has many battles to fight, because many of those who championed the crusade against it seem to have gone to sleep.
However, all hope is not lost, the vigilance of the people is essential to oil the wheel of the anti-human trafficking crusade.
Presently, with support from the Belgium Immigration Authority, an NGO, the Girls Power Initiative (GPI), a feminist, Youth Organisation founded in 1993 by Bene Madunagu and Grace Osakue to intervene in the socialization of girls for the realization of a future where women are visibly and valued actors in the Nigerian society has initiated preventive actions against trafficking in human beings and irregular migration from Edo State, specifically in Edo South Senatorial District.
The programme which is expected to last from February – July, 2015 (Six months) has the overall goal of increasing awareness of the true native and risks of trafficking in human beings and irregular migration among children, young women, parents, community members and leaders in the senatorial district.
The specific objectives of the six-month programme included, to increase awareness among in and out of school children and young women; increase awareness among parents, community members and leaders in the target location as well as reduce misconceptions and provide accurate information on trafficking in human beings and irregular migration to the general public.
The primary beneficiaries of the project are school children in the age range of eight – 18 years in 21 communities; parents, community members and leaders in seven communities; out of school young apprentices as well as stall holders in markets in four rural local government areas in Edo South Senatorial district.
The co-ordinator of GPI in Edo State, Grace Osakue said officials of the State Ministry of Education, local government, secondary school principals and teachers, market men and women, parents as well as opinion leaders shall be secondary beneficiaries.
So far, a10 members Project Management Team (PMT) has been constituted, key participants, included The Nigerian Immigration Service, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), the Police, family units, Civil Society Orgnisation, Market women, local government areas, community, ANCOPSS, and GPI.
The PMT is task with the mandate to ensure smooth execution of the project; create adequate awareness as well as support continuity of actions after the project period.
The constitution of PMT is a broadbased and comprehensive approach to addressing the problem of human trafficking and smuggling of migrants.
The committee is expected to visit schools to raise awareness, counselling and capacity building.
The awareness campaign will also be extended to markets and as well organize town hall meetings.
Meanwhile, the programme had commenced with a meeting of relevant stakeholders in Benin City, including the financier –Belguim Immgration Authority, NAPTIP, representative of Edo State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development with GPI officials.
Co-ordinator of GPI, Grace Osakue in her presentation gave an overview of the project. She informed participants of the roles expected of the to prevent and mitigate the effect of human trafficking and smuggling of migrants in the state, while the representative of NAPTIP Executive Secretary briefed the stakeholders on the activities of NAPTIP in the area of human trafficking.
Representatives of Belgium Immigration Authority on her part informed the stakeholders of the nature and depth of the problem of human trafficking and smuggling of migrants in Belgium, with particular attention on how Nigerians are involved.
An official of the State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, gave an overview of state government efforts in addressing the problem of human trafficking and smuggling of migrants.
Such efforts, she said included the reactivation of Skills Acquisition Centres in the state with the collaboration of SEEFOR.
It would be recalled that in 2001 when the campaign against trafficking in humans beings and irregular migration from Edo State was at its peak, criticisms trailed the actions of the main actors. It is sad to note that then, a reasonable number of people, notably girls trafficked engaged in what many people regarded as international Prostitution. Preceding this was the passing into law of the anti-human trafficking Bill in August 2001 at a National symposium held at the University of Ibadan in 1989, a young Edo Scholar who highlighted the problem of increasing involvement of Edo indigenes in prostitution was alleged to have been shouted down by some respectable Edo elites for raising false alarm.
By the 1990s, the real problem of the false alarm seems to have dawned on Edo people. It was no longer a local problem, but an international issue that saw to the deportation of Edo girls from oversea countries, including African countries. While the international prostitution has stigmatized us as a nation, the local variance endangers us as a race, with its long term implications.
The irony of the situation is that the ‘sponsorers’ (sponsors) or main actors in the Human Trafficking cartel never trafficking their children for the long term benefit of economic gains, courtesy of prostitution. For some time now, even though the evils associated with trafficking in humans, hardly get mentioned in the media or social discuss, they are starring us in the face, just as the situation is not getting better. Rather, the act is re-inventing itself. Poverty, greed, jealousy and ignorance are seen as the most factors that predispose members of the society to engaging in and making themselves or their loved ones available for the business of trafficking in humans.
A recent case in point will suffice it. In Benin City, separated parents who were unable to raise less than 15,000 for their child’s enrolment in school were able to come together to raise over N75, 000 required to facilitate their child being trafficked abroad. This is just one of several cases that pervade the society.
It is advisable that we be not complacent, thinking that we have made progress, though, insignificant.
The image of a character in a chieftaincy title contest drama will provide us better understanding of present situation.
After what appears a good selection process, all indices point to the fact that our man has carried the day. He therefore calls all flutists, talking drummers, dancers, singers, acrobats (Ugbabonelimhi) and praise singers to join him on a triumphant dance down to his house; but just as our man was settling down at home, a report comes to him that the result of the selection process has been upturned and that one of his opponents has been declared the winner. This is the price of complacency – not watching over what we see as progress made in the anti-human trafficking crusade.