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How I Returned Home Broke After Selling Belongings To Travel To Europe – Nigerian Migrant

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Evans William, after he returned back to Nigeria (Photo credit: Colin Freeman for BBC)

More than 3,000 Nigerian migrants who failed to reach Europe, have been flown home by the International Organization for Migration. Many sold everything to make the trip and aren’t sure how to face their families, writes Colin Freeman for BBC.

Evans William tells me he sold everything but the kitchen sink to fund his dream of getting to Europe. And I mean everything – his bed, his fridge, his TV, his spare clothes and his mobile phone. After borrowing yet more cash, he finally had enough to pay a smuggling gang to take him from Nigeria across the Sahara to Libya.

In all, it cost him £750 ($1,000), but he wasn’t worried. Once in Europe, he figured, he could quickly earn enough to pay off his creditors, and eventually return home to start a business of his own.

It didn’t quite work out like that. After six miserable months in Libya, where the gang forced him to work for nothing, he finally boarded a rickety boat to cross the Mediterranean. It got stopped by the Libyan coastguard, who threw him and 140 other passengers into a detention centre.

By then he’d had enough. When I met Evans last month, he’d just returned home to Benin City in southern Nigeria, where he was among hundreds of migrants staying in a government-requisitioned hotel.

They’d been flown back by the International Organization for Migration, a UN body that helps illegal migrants who want to return home.

As well as a free plane ticket, they get a few nights’ hotel accommodation, and £200 in pocket money while they find their feet. They’re also offered job training, to give them a better chance of a livelihood.

The scheme is partly bankrolled by a £3bn fund set up by the European Union in 2015, the year the migrant crisis dominated the news.

The EU hopes that by offering migrants better prospects in their own countries, they can be persuaded to leave Libya – where up to 700,000 are still thought to be waiting to cross the Mediterranean to Europe – and turn back.

More than 3,000 Nigerian migrants have already returned, and a further 20,000 are due to do so this year.

Yet for those who take up the offer, arriving back home can be a depressing experience.

Most, like Evans, are virtually destitute. And while they appreciate the offers of job training, it’s fairly basic stuff, like hairdressing or tailoring, or learning how to farm. For those who dreamed of making it in Europe, that’s a bit of a comedown.

What also hurts, though, is the feeling that they’ll be seen as failures by their peers and relatives. Many could only make the trip because mum and dad sold off the family silver. Nobody wants to come back penniless, and admit that they blew what’s seen – rightly or wrongly – as the chance of a lifetime.

Evans, for example, doesn’t even want to go back home – even though it may be the only place he’ll get a bed once his pocket money runs out.

“I still don’t want to stay in Nigeria,” he tells me. “Although next time, I’ll try to go to Europe by legal means.”

Gloomier still was Abibu, a tough-looking young man who was on the same flight home as Evans. He had a fresh-looking scar on his face, and a scowl that deepened as he talked.

His mother, he said, had sold her only plot of land to fund his trip to Europe. He hadn’t even told her he was back.

“If my mum sees me she’ll get sick with worry,” he said. “And all the neighbours, saying, ‘This guy’s mum sold her land so he could go to Europe – and then he failed!’ If I hear anyone saying that, I tell you, I’ll kill them.”

So what was he going to do now, then?

“Well, first I’ll need to get my money back. The pocket money I got is just a fraction of what I spent getting to Libya.”

Which of the training opportunities did Abibu fancy? Hairdresser? Farmer? He seemed to have other work in mind. “I’ll look at the offers,” he admitted grudgingly. “But I’m worried I’ll end up committing crime to get the money back.”

Really? What sort of crime?

 

“Robbery, probably.”

He sounded like he meant it, and I found myself wondering just what Abibu had done to get that scar on his face. As we said our goodbyes, my Nigerian colleague, Peter, who’s also a church pastor, felt it was time for a word.

“It was your decision to go – don’t blame others,” he told Abibu. “And reconnect with your mother – at least she’ll be happy to hear you’re still alive.”

 

Will she, though? Two years ago, in a migrant detention centre in Libya, I had met an inmate from The Gambia, who had asked me to pass on just such a message to his family.

When I rang them, I expected tears of joy.

Instead, they had just one question: “So what, he’s not made it to Europe then?”

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Welcome the next set of MTN Scholars!

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360 young Nigerians receive scholarships from MTN Foundation

MTN Foundation has awarded scholarships to 360 university students at a virtual ceremony on November 12, 2020. The scholarships were awarded under the MTNF scholarship schemes made up of the MTNF Science & Technology Scholarship (STSS) and Scholarship for the Blind Students (SBSS). In attendance were the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, represented by the Technical Assistant, Dr. Olufemi Adeluyi; Honourable Minister of Science & Technology represented by the Acting Director-General of the National Space Research and
Development Agency, Dr. Francis Chizea; former Minister of Communication Technology, Dr. Omobola Johnson amongst other notable dignitaries.

Speaking at the ceremony, the representative of the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Olufemi Adeluyi said: “We are here with the MTN Foundation to celebrate scholars that have excelled in school. MTN is also supporting people with disabilities by funding their education and this is very commendable. The Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy is constantly working towards elevating skills over degrees. We are also committed to ensuring that individuals are empowered with the right tools and skills.”

Also speaking, Honourable Minister of Science &  Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu represented by Dr. Francis Chizea said: “I am glad that MTN, in giving back to the society through its foundation, set up a scholarship scheme to empower the youths and as well, drive science and technology. This is a welcome development and a commendable effort that other organizations need to emulate.”

A major highlight of the ceremony was a fireside chat themed “Insight. Influence. Impact” with thought leaders sharing inspiring insights with the scholars. Nigeria’s former Minister for Communication Technology, Dr. Omobola Johnson reiterated the role MTN continues to play in the ICT space and its impact on the country. “We need to get a workforce that is very comfortable with technology. We are in a state where we need world-class educational institutions and interventions such as this that will enable students to be very vast in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics,” Johnson said.

Leading to the ceremony, this year’s graduating students from the scholarship programme were hosted to a career incubation boot camp facilitated by experts from Google, Oracle, Cisco and Jobberman. Facilitators shared insights on various opportunities amongst other vital employability tips.

Speaking on the scholarship award ceremony and workshop for graduands, Executive Secretary, MTN Foundation, Nonny Ugboma said, “Providing access to quality education is the first step to a world of opportunity for the youth of our nation. We know it does not stop there. We need to also ensure that they are adequately prepared for the
workplace. We hope that the fireside chat at the award ceremony will inspire the students to reach for greatness and innovation. Furthermore, it is our belief that the employability workshop held earlier will enrich the career path of the graduating students. The MTNF scholarship scheme is more than just funds; it is a commitment to
build the capacity of our youth. We wish all our graduating scholars success as they set out to take on the world and congratulate all awardees as the next set of young nation builders in the making.”

The newly awarded scholars will each enjoy a scholarship grant worth N200,000 annually till graduation as long as they maintain a CGPA of 3.5 or its equivalent. The scholarship covers tuition, book allowance and stipend. Till date, MTN Foundation has awarded scholarships to 3,829 students valued at over NGN 2.1Billion.

The MTNF annual scholarships are awarded to high performing students in Nigerian public tertiary institutions.

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Illegal Abortions Responsible For Mysterious Deaths In Bauchi: State Govt

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Bauchi Governor Bala Mohammed

Bauchi Governor Bala Mohammed

Bauchi State Government has revealed that the mysterious deaths recorded in the State has been as a result of illegal abortions.

An investigation carried out by the Bauchi State Primary Healthcare Development Agency has revealed that illegal abortion by unqualified medical practitioners is the cause of mysterious deaths in Azare and other local government areas in the northern part of the state.

According to reports, no fewer than 200 women have died in Bauchi as a result of this and there are projections that the number could be more at the end of the investigation.

The Executive Chairman of the agency, Dr Rilwanu Mohammed, disclosed this Friday, May 29, at an interactive session organized by the Bauchi State Public Health Media Network.

Also Read: We Spend N4,500 Daily On Meals Of Each COVID-19 Patient: Bauchi Govt

Mohammed said the deaths resulted from unwanted and unplanned pregnancies by both married and unmarried women of childbearing ages who, after becoming pregnant, visited quack health workers to terminate the pregnancies.

He said the lack of understanding of the importance of child spacing as well as ignorance of what to do with such pregnancies had become a major problem to family health in the state.

He emphasized the need for adequate sex education for the girl-child by parents, particularly mothers, to reduce unwanted pregnancies, thereby reducing deaths from complications.

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Ondo Govt Arraigns Suspected Killers Of Funke Olakunrin

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Funke Olakunrin's killers

Funke Olakunrin’s killers

The Ondo State Government has arraigned four men suspected to have killed Mrs Funke Olakunrin, the daughter of the National Leader of Afenifere, Pa Reuben Fasoranti.

Recall that it was earlier reported that the Nigeria Police Force handed over the suspects to the State Government.

Also Read: BREAKING: Suspected Killers Of Funke Olakunrin Arrested – Police

They are Lawal Mazaje from the Felele area of Kogi State, Adamu Adamu from Jada area of Adamawa State, Mohammed Usman from Illela area of Sokoto State, and Auwal Abubakar from Shinkafi area of Zamfara State.

The suspects were arraigned on Friday by the government at a Chief Magistrate Court sitting in Akure.

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