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Nigerians have no reason risking their lives going to Europe through Sahara


MANY across the world still feel shocked about the needless deaths ensconced in the very risky trans-Sahara and deathly trans-Mediterranean migration from several sub-Saharan countries, including Nigeria. Traversing the complicated vastness of anomie, especially along the routes from Niger to Libya alone often results in precarious unintended consequences.

Daily, there are reports of harrowing experiences including slave auctions, rape, extortion and other nasty difficulties being confronted by Nigerians embarking on a desperate and near-directionless search for a European golden fleece. However, without being Nigerian, some very knowledgeable people from distant origins enthusiastically express amazement about the profound possibilities within Nigeria.

They see bewildering domestic possibilities for young people aiming to go far, even without leaving the shores of Nigeria. When such persons, especially diplomats from Europe organize for serious investors from their countries to come and explore opportunities here in Nigeria, they wonder why the sad and desperate flights of young people in the prime of life continues, even when the Federal Government and an agency like National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) persistently tries to dissuade them.

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One of such people who see Nigeria as a nation blessed with infinite opportunities for discerning young persons and unbounded possibilities for greatness is Ambassador Werner Senfter. From his viewpoints, it is easy to see that had he been a Nigerian, he would have qualified to be described as a patriotic one.“We see huge economic potentials here in Nigeria at the moment and there are many Austrian companies who believe in Nigeria’s economic future,” he told The Nation on Sunday.

According to Senfter, lack of appropriate information or inability to access it may have contributed to illegal and risky flights abroad. Concurrently, he is Austria s ambassador to ten countries and ofall ten, his first choice is Nigeria. In addition, Ambassador Senfter is Austria’s Special Representative to ECOWAS, the regional economic union of fifteen West African countries comprising an area of 5.1 million square kilometres and an estimated population of over 349 million.

From Abuja, Nigeria’s federal capital, he coordinates Austria’s affairs across countries.“We have organized delegations of Austrian firms coming to explore investment opportunities here in Nigeria. An Austrian business delegation coming to Lagos is to be led by the head of the Vienna Chamber of Commerce. We anticipate a large

delegation and there will be several discussions with potential Nigerian business partners,” he said in reference to existing prospects in Nigeria.

He also described the extent of his responsibilities. “Other than Nigeria, I am in charge of Austria’s diplomacy in nine other countries and ECOWAS. The nine countries stretch from Ghana and end in the Central African Republic, or northwards from Chad Republic down to Gabon. Specifically, the countries that my responsibilities cover are Nigeria, Ghana, Benin, Togo, Chad, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome, Gabon and Central African Republic”.

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Born on 23 July 1970, his diplomatic career started at the Austrian Foreign Ministry where he served between 1996  1998. Senfter had served in various places, including Belgrade, Beijing and The Hague before being posted to Nigeria in August, 2016.How pronounced does he think the problem of illegal migration to Europe is and what can he say about the odds against Nigerians who still nurse such agenda?

“With regard to such challenges, we have been working with the National Agency for The Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons (NAPTIP) and we have effective arrangements for exchange of information with them.“Most Nigerians who come to Europe illegally do so by entering through Italy. Some of them head for Austria where they file applications for asylum.

“However, as there are usually no credible reasons in such applications, most of these applications cannot be considered and such Nigerians sooner or later find out that they have to leave Austria,” he said. According to the Austrian ambassador whose country now has a 31 year-old ‘wunderkind’, Sebastian Kurz, who rode a wave of anti-immigrant anxiety to become Austria’s Chancellor and the world’s youngest leader; the best bet for any young person seeking to live in Europe is to have solid education and highly-needed expertise.

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“I think the best way for them to actualize the dream of living in Europe, within the framework of their possibilities, is for them to empower themselves with education.“It is education, education and education as far as possible because this will be the basis or solution to quite a number of problems they would otherwise encounter,” Ambassador Senfter advised.

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