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Lagos commissioner tasks media on migrants’ stories

Unraveling and proper reporting of untold stories about the migrants across the universe would go a long way to save lives. This is necessary in order to reposition and counsel innocent migrants being lured to slavery and death through irregular migration.

The efforts would also go farther to curb the incessant human trafficking that has become a global malaise.

The above was the assertion of the Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omostoso, in his office while playing host to leadership of the Journalists International Forum for Migration (JIFORM), who presented a prestigious award to him in his office.

JIFORM President, Ajibola Abayomi, who presented the award to the commissioner, informed that the commissioner was singled out for the honour because of his dedication to duties, support for advocacy against irregular migration and extreme passion for migration stories as Editor both at The Comet and The Nation Newspapers over the years.

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 Earlier Abayomi had presented the report of the JIFORM summit held in Abuja on November 26-28 , 2019 and asked for support for the foundation’s international events slated for Lagos in 2020. 

Receiving the report and JIFORM 2020 proposal, an elated Omotoso thanked the foundation for honouring.

His words: “I am happy that the token we were able to give as support for your event last year was appreciated.

“There were people we assisted with large sums of money and they never bothered to acknowledge the gesture talk less of placing a call to say ‘Thank you’.

 “That, however, would not stop this office and the Lagos state government from assisting the public. For us, it is call to duty. That you even consider it worthy to look back really excites me. The award is much appreciated.”

The foremost journalist, who edited The Nation newspaper over two decades, however, noted that JIFORM and its members have a lot to do to change the tide of irregular migration on Africa continent particularly in Nigeria.

He encouraged the body to combine investigative journalisms with its advocacy by unravelling the untold stories of migrants.

“There are stories that are traumatic one wouldn’t want to tell. I have had such encounters in Italy and America years back as journalist, and I wrote those stories at The Guardian and The Nation newspapers.

 “Thousands of the youths in this county must be told the home truth about irregular migration. Horror, agony and death are what many encounter through the desert and on the Mediterranean Sea” he lamented.

The commissioner, though admitted that the economy was challenging, he counseled the youths to rather engage in ventures that would enhance their productivities by shunning tempting offers to embark on unplanned journey.

 “There are  roads to be tarred, buildings to be built  and lots of infrastructure to be erected in Africa. These are clear indications that with proper planning, there are jobs at home for our engineers and artisans but in Europe they are through with those things. The jobs are here.

 “The real stories of irregular migrants are not being told. Only the extremely lucky ones are surviving abroad where regularisation of status is a thug of war. There are thousands of people that are rotting away and could not even raise money for air tickets back home.

“JIFORM has a lot to do by using videos and other narratives to reposition peoples mind about desperation to live abroad because souls are being lost to misgivings from those who are set out to profit from the frustration of their fellow beings,” Omotoso stated.

JIFORM President, Ajibola Abayomi, was accompanied by the Controller News Radio Nigeria One and JIFORM Organising Secretary, Abiola Peters; Chairperson, Lagos State Chapter of the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), and JIFORM Women Coordinator, Nigeria, Abiola Ekine and other members of the foundation, like Innocent Duru of The Nation Newspaper and Yakubu Yusuf of The Source Magazine.