The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has said his administration, in the past six years, focused on addressing the systemic failure which was responsible for the mass exodus of youths in the state to European countries in search of greener pastures.
Obaseki said this during the launch of the “Managing Migration through Development (MMDP 2.0) Project, in Benin City, the Edo State capital.
The governor, represented by his deputy, Rt. Hon. Comr. Philip Shaibu, said the phase two of the project will sustain the gains recorded by the government in addressing illegal migration and human trafficking.
Obaseki said, “We are hopeful that the second phase of this programme will sustain the gains of the first phase and further deepen reforms at making the state a place where young people can realize their fullest potential.
“In the last six years, we have worked with both local and international partners to reverse the trend of human trafficking and illegal migration in Edo State as we have made remarkable progress in the nation and state. We have created a solid institutional and legal framework as well as several initiatives to support the aspiration of our youthful population.”
He continued: “In 2016, our state had a bad reputation of being one of the primary sources of illegal migration and we were not happy with this.We worked hard to stop this negative trend.
“In finding a lasting solution to this trend and the root cause of the problem, we employed empirical studies and discovered that to a large extent, the migration of our youths for greener pastures was caused by systemic collapse and failure to prioritize developmental initiatives over time. It was worsened by the neglect of our youths for decades by successive governments.”
On steps taken to reverse the trend, Obaseki said, “We embarked on several programmes, policies and reforms like the enactment of the Edo State Trafficking in Persons Prohibition Bill 2018 to provide effective and comprehensive legal framework that will check the scourge of human trafficking.
“The government also established the Edo State Taskforce against Human Trafficking in August 2017 to show the seriousness of the government to stem the tide of illegal migration and find partners that will help in building the necessary support to keep the youth engaged in the state.”
Hailing partners for the sustained collaboration with the state government, he noted, “Our partnership with the Italian Government, the European Union and International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has given birth to this programme and we have made great success together. Thank you all for working with us to change the negative tide.
“We have retooled our economy for growth and expansion in the last six years. We have established a thriving creative industry. We are training over 15,000 software engineers, developing Africa’s largest oil palm programme on a 120,000-hectare of land and building lasting infrastructure to sustain our thriving economy.”
On his part, the Italian Ambassador to Nigeria, Stefano De Leo, commended the government’s commitment to fighting illegal migration and human trafficking
Also, Head of Lagos and Benin City Sub-Office of IOM, Mr. Victor Lutenco, noted, “This programme will provide special assistance to migrants to improve their re-integration and shelter. The project will be complimentary to refugees, returnees and beneficiaries who have received assistance in time past.”