It was 16th of March, 2011, Oqua Effiong left Nigeria for Italy through Tripoli, up till this moment, we have not heard from him. The desperation and determination among the youths to leave Nigeria for other countries keep rising. Some of the reason for this mass emigration is as a result of deepening corruption, poverty and lack of employment opportunities in the country. How can one after going to school or developing a skill, is still not unable to get a job. Some youths that have lost hope eventually resort to all forms of criminalities to make a living while other opt for leaving Nigeria for climes with better opportunity even if it means traveling through the desert.
This is the story of Amenze, a 19-year-old girl from Edo state. She was born into a not well to do family, as a result, she was not able to go to school because of financial constraint. Amenze has always thought about ways of working and making a lot of money to support her family. When Chinyere her friend broached the opportunity of going to Italy to work, Amenze didn’t give it a second taught.
According to Chinyere, the traveling agent required that intending traveller have a skill, and in this case Amenze was eminently qualified because she could plait all kinds of hair. They were also required to pay the sum of two hundred and eighty thousand naira(N280,000) for traveling expenses and agency fee.
Amenze’s parents believed so much in her, so they had no problem going around borrow to secure their daughter’s journey to what they saw as a better life.
After all the payments had been made, arrangement was made for the journey first to Tripoli. From Tripoli, there was to be another journey through the Mediterranean Sea to Italy. Amenze and Chinyere were ready. They had had enough of Nigeria!
When the time for the journey drew close, all the travellers assembled at a dilapidated and abandoned primary school building in Badagary, Lagos, by Mr Okocha (Travel agent). At 10pm the truck arrived and their journey to an unforgettable experience began. The travellers were about one hundred and fifteen (115) in total. They were crammed like sardines in a container, there was wood work constructed above the travellers in the truck to evade the immigration.
Amenze and others journeyed from Lagos through the northern parts of Nigeria, and then crossed into Niger Republic. Passengers were instructed to hold on to the wood work as the car will not stop for anybody in the desert. From Niger Republic it was a desert, the sun was intense, the wind was unbearable, the hunger and thirst were unimaginable. Amenze and others had not eaten or drank water in three days. People urinated and defecated in the truck, the sheer smell caused many to vomit and fall sick. There were screams and wailing in the desert at night as they were driving through, in some cases, Amenze saw a burning truck with people roasting inside. It was a scarry sight to behold.
Story to be continued!