About 60 pupils, some of whom are BECE candidates in some parts of the Northern Region of Ghana, have reportedly dropped out of school unceremoniously and traveled to Nigeria in search of greener pastures under circumstance feared to be human trafficking.
The pupils, all of whom are from communities in the Nanumba North and South, Nkwanta North, Saboba and Cheriponi districts are said to have gone to Nigeria through agents who come to the area to recruit them and ‘smuggle’ them through the Tatale border (near Zabzugu) through Togo, Benin to Nigeria to go and work on farms.
A local reporter based in Bimbilla who has been following the issue reports it is a common practice in the area for young men to migrate through the Togo border to Nigeria to work for a year or two and return with motorbikes as their reward.
The reporter, however, adds that the latest development, which he says is worrying, is the fact that school children have also joined in without the consent of their parents.
Checks by the reporter reveals a total of about 57 pupils have so far left for Nigeria from six communities:
Some parents, who were only informed about their children’s travel through a phone call when they arrived in Nigeria, are not enthused with the development and want the government to intervene and stop the recruiting agents.
Worried parents call for government intervention
Mr. Polnpiir, whose son is a BECE candidate, laments his son’s decision to quit school to go to Nigeria after he had warned him against the move when he overheard his son discuss the idea with his friends.
“There is this son of mine called Bienan. He is not up to 15 years and a student in JHS 3. He has left for Nigeria without my consent. I want government to come to our aid to control this and arrest the agents so that our children can go to school,” Mr. Polnpiir said, in Konkomba.
“My name is Kobena Tinyam. My son left for Nigeria and when he was going, he didn’t ask permission from me. I sent my son to school but he left and went to Nigeria. I want government to come to our aid and arrest those people who send them there,” another parent also complained in Konkomba.
Another parent, Kobena Tinyam, is still confused as to what informed his son’s decision to quit school and travel to Nigeria and keeps wondering who sent his son there.
He complains he is now left alone to work and feed the family.
At Banvim, a suburb of Bimbilla, where a 14-year-old boy also joined the job seekers, a call later came in to inform his family he was in Nigeria. His father followed up through one of the returnees and demanded that his son be brought back home.
The ‘money’ and ‘free’ life in Nigeria
Meanwhile, Jagri, a 20-year-old who just returned from Nigeria on the same mission, shares his experience in Nigeria with the reporter.
“Whenever you travel there [Nigeria] you are free to do whatever you want and there are a lot of girls there at cheaper prices,” he said.
According to Jagri, as a recruiting agent, most of whom are returnees, one gets a new motorbike at the end of the year if he succeeds in recruiting eight people.
Asked why he had to quit school and seek greener pastures in Nigeria, he said: “We go to school because of money so if going to Nigeria will get the money or own a motor bike at young age why stay in school?”
He also said it is easier for them to get work on the farms in Nigeria because Ghanaians are more preferred than Nigerians, stating “Ghanaian youth are hardworking”.
The risky voyage
Jagri, however, said the journey to Nigeria is a risky one, explaining that when they are returning to Ghana, they ride motor bikes continuously for four days and that they sometimes get attacked on the way.
Rather strangely, one of the pupils was encouraged by his own brother, his guardian, to embark on the trip to be able to make money for the upkeep of the family.
The guardian told the reporter the returnee come with motorbikes and are able to buy roofing sheets to roof their parents’ mud houses, hence his reason for encouraging the boy to also go. He further explained poverty is high in Ghana.
The reporter gathers the numbers may increase astronomically in the coming days because many others have been penciled to leave the country.