It was only four months ago when the announcement was made of the appointment of a Benin-based Human Rights Activist as Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on Anti-Human Trafficking and Illegal Migration Matters to Gov. Godwin Obaseki of Edo state.

The appointment has been described as a well deserved appointment, while being celebrated even in the civil society community.

This distinguished appointee was no other but Comrade Solomon Okoduwa.

Prominent among those who celebrated the appointment was the former Minority leader of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. (Barr.) Samson Osagie. Hon. Samson Osagie had described the appointment of Solomon Okoduwa as a well deserved appointment, while praising the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led government on its firm stance against Human Trafficking and Illegal Migration.

Prior to the appointment, Okoduwa who is the President, Initiative for Youth Awareness on Migration, Immigration, Development and Reintegration (IYAMIDR), was a member of the state committee against human trafficking.

Governor Obaseki has at different fora, described the activist as hard working and focused.

Okoduwa has been at the forefront of creating awareness on the dangers of illegal migration and benefits of getting engaged back home in Nigeria and Edo in particular.

Solomon Okoduwa has found joy in his new job and no one else does it better than he does. His continued advocacy has gained recognition from both within and outside the shores of the state, as he has decided to take the fight to all sectors of the society.

In a bid to drastically put an end to the menace of human trafficking and illegal migration, Okoduwa has taken advocacy against the illegal activities to schools, churches, mosques and organizations in the state.

The State government has also created an enabling environment for the returnees with necessary skills to becoming great entrepreneurs. Many of them have been trained under the Governor Obaseki’s Edo Job scheme.

The government has since placed returnees under a stipend of N20,000 for the first-three months of returning to the country.

The great Oba of Benin is also not left out in the campaign against the ugly menace as every step taken by the state government is being complemented by the great Oba.

On Friday, March 9, 2018, the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, summoned all Benin chiefs and native doctors in the kingdom for an emergency meeting with a view to tackling human trafficking, kidnapping and other security challenges in the state. This came as the Edo State House of Assembly also began consideration of a bill for a law to prohibit human trafficking and establish Edo State task force against trafficking in persons.

In the course of the meeting, the great Oba placed a curse on human traffickers in the state. This, and many other steps taken by the Oba, has accorded him accolades from the Edos (both at home and diaspora). His actions has also sent confusions to the camp of those who engage in the illegal business since their accomplices (native doctors) also got a bite of the monarch’s curse. The Edo State PFN has also followed the monarch’s footsteps and placed a curse on their members who abet human trafficking and illegal migration.

His Royal Majesty, Oba Ewuare II has also announced monthly salary for all returnees.

The government reintegration and empowerment programme is also yielding positive results with a good number of the returnees being trained and empowered under the governor’s Edo Job’s scheme.

The advocacy to churches, mosques and organizations is a welcome development, as such advocacy is aimed at discouraging young girls and boys from embarking on the deadly journey to Libya/Europe through the Mediterranean sea or the Sahara desert.

These deliberate efforts has helped to strengthen the state’s stand on the illegal activities, as well as attracted many NGOs, including NAPTIP and FG, and other organizations and government bodies around the world. These bodies have also complemented government’s efforts in one way or the other, and have also made several promises to do even more.

The journey to Libya has sent many youths to their untimely grave while many others are enslaved or infected with diseases.

Governor Obaseki does not only trust Okoduwa, he has entrusted in him a great task – to tackle the ugly menace of Human Trafficking and Illegal Migration which has eaten deeply into the state.

Okoduwa has demonstrated ultimate capacity in his utterances and actions, thus, living up to his comradeship title.

In line with the style and language of his boss, Governor Obaseki, Okoduwa has consistently re-echoed the message of the administration on war on illegalities and the aggressive Anti-Human Trafficking and Illegal Migration campaigns.

Okoduwa’s advocacy and loyalty to the governor tells a good story on how aides should work together with their masters in achieving a common goal and seeing a much desired result. There is so much to learn from the milestone this present government has achieved. This kind of commitment and loyalty is unprecedented in Nigerian politics and is worth emulating, even for leaders outside the political realm.

 

— Ogochukwu Isioma, a Blogger and Social Commentator, writes from Benin City. He can be reached via: 07039548930 or ogochukwuisioma@gmail.com