Agents who traffic in Nigerian youngsters in the name of getting them better clubs and professional careers in Europe and America are now in a big mess. “Their activities have reached an alarming stage and we have set out to trap, arrest and prosecute them in appropriate courts of the land.”
This was the declaration of the Director General of the National Agency against the Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Barrister Julie Okah-Donli when she received the leadership of the Nigeria Sports Development Fund Inc (NSDFI) who paid her a courtesy visit in the agency’s headquarters at the weekend.
According to Okah-Donli, “it is sad how these agents exploit these kids in the name of getting them foreign clubs. They make them sign all manners of contracts which practically enslave them. They boys and in some cases, the girls, work for the agent while they hang there because they seemingly have no options.”
“Let me tell whoever bothers to hear that our nation’s situation will improve. We shall partner with you and want you to be our voice. We want to make excellent children on your programme NAPTIP Ambassadors in Sports. We want to showcase them as examples of proper development and hope in the future, not through these shylock agents.”
“We look forward to your orgnisation extending your programme to children who are in our shelters where victims of abuse are kept to take to sports. Many of them can become great athletes and future stars. Their success stories are what we want to brandish to the world about NAPTIP.”
Speaking earlier, the Director General of NSDFI, Mr Olajide Fashikun told his hosts “if we beg to raise funds to bring in one million kids in the next three years, then, there is joy in begging. We shall endeavour to make sports available to every child that wants to build a career in sports. If an average child is in sports, there will be less work and stress on NAPTIP and sister preventive or prosecutorial organisations.”
The former Zamalek SC of Egypt athlete added, “by February 2018, we shall announce the 90 athletes who will enjoy the N20million per athlete funding to prepare for Tokyo 2020 Olympics. We have employed lottery as a means of raising funds to make our nation better and greater in sports.”
Speaking also, Chief Mary Onyali, the Executive Director (Technical) of NSDFI said, “victims of trafficking are in search of the golden fleece to better their lives. With the realisation of the fact that our nation’s sports industry is worth more than N50billion, it is only incumbent that we gradually work towards this. If they know what spaces exist in sports, trafficking will be less attractive and the victims will have more viable choices.”
“Everyone has a talent. We shall work out the modalities to partner with your organization in making the victims in the NAPTIP shelters better hoping we can make great successes out of them. Most successful athletes anywhere in the world are from extremely poor homes. This will ginger them to rise and excel against the wind of the fate they are presently facing.”
Some of the senior NAPTIP staffers present during the visit include Mr Orakwe Arinze (Public Enlightenment), Greg Esele (Investigation and Monitoring), Olusayo Olubiyi Training and Manpower), Aminu Hassan Ndanusa (Finance & Administration), Iyke Onyali.
Others are Barrister Abdulrahim Shaibu (legal and prosecution), Godwin Morka (Research and Programme), and Dr (Mrs) Eunice Anuforum (Counselling and Rehabilitation).
Mrs Julie Okah-Donli signed up and identified with the project as one of her celebrities. She signed into the Team Onyali brand.