A migration information center the first of its kind in the northern region was recently commissioned by the Spanish Ambassador to Ghana, Mrs Rico Perez Del Pulgar.
In her speech, the ambassador highlighted the dangers of traveling through the Sahara Desert to Europe and urged young men and women in the region to seriously consider staying home and not to embark on the life-threatening journey.
On the same podium was the northern regional minister, Mr. Salifu Saeed who also admonished the youth to stay put in the land of their birth and take advantage of the opportunities that abound. He relayed how he fought off temptation to venture abroad.
Much as I appreciate the frank pep talk by the two dignitaries – our young people do need this kind of encouragement once a while to boost their morale --- the ambassador and the northern regional chief executive deliberately withheld some vital information.
On the part of the Spanish ambassador, she should have qualified her speech by illuminating the actual rationale behind all the migration information centers cropping up across the length and breadth of Sub-Saharan Africa.
The real reason, if the ambassador was to be brutally honest with our young people, is that the European Union of which Spain is a member, is trying frantically to stop the further influx of undesirable African migrants from.
In 2015, Europe was stunned and paralyzed by the large numbers of people who had shown up uninvited on its shores. Europeans were petrified and scared stiff of people who didn’t look like them. Hostility became palpable; the presence of non-whites in the heart of Europe gave rise to right wing politicians one of who, Mateo Salvini of Italy, has made it the cornerstone of his political platform to vilify and demonize African migrants.
Mr. Saeed, on his part talked of opportunities in the north that our young people could exploit instead of beating a path to Europe and beyond. I was bewildered and scratched my bald head at that pronouncement.
Where are the opportunities Mr. Saeed was talking about? There are none. Just ask the young men and women in the city of Tamale and surrounding towns and villages in the region. If you are not politically connected, you can pack it in. You are not getting a job, period.
It was disingenuous of the regional minister to make such a bold statement knowing full well that the unemployment rate in the north is way higher than the national average. Look, Mr. Saeed and the ambassador meant well. They want the best for our youth and I wholeheartedly support that effort. Nonetheless, they should have been candid.
Truth be told, there are certain basic things the European Union can do to stop migration from Africa. For starters, it should make it easy and less cumbersome to acquire visas to travel to Europe.
Young people take alternative routes to Europe because they are frustrated every time they apply for visas to travel abroad.
Additionally, the European Union should pour investments into deprived areas of Sub-Saharan Africa to create jobs for our youth.
African governments can also do their part to keep their young people back home. All that is expected of African leaders is to ostop stealing from the public coffers and devote that money to sectors like manufacturing and agriculture that will ultimately bring along work for our young ones.
Migration Information Centers are not the magic bullet our young people need at this stage. Jobs are the answer.