The Tony Elumelu Foundation says it is committed to youth empowerment and entrepreneurship development in order to prevent the growing youth on the continent from being prey to human traffickers.
Tony Elumelu, founder of the foundation disclosed this at the weekend while playing host to Julie Okah-Donli, director general of Nigeria’s National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) as he commits to support the agency in its fight against human trafficking.
“Human trafficking is evil, it strips our youth of dignity and denies them opportunity,” he said, adding: “We support what you are doing and we stand behind you.”
He said the Tony Elumelu Foundation believes in the empowerment of our youths and as we all know, they cannot be empowered if they are not free.
“We stand with you in eradicating human trafficking in Nigeria and will engage extensively with you as you work to restore dignity to mankind, protect the dignity of our youth and ensure no one can take undue advantage of them.”
Elumelu also urged other private sector players to join the agency to fight human trafficking, assuring them of the credibility and competency of NAPTIP and its DG whom he could vouch for.
“If she succeeds, we will all succeed. Let us come together to make sure our youth, our future leaders, are not trafficked,” he said.
He also made an appeal to the government to increase budgetary funding to the cash-strapped agency.
“I call on the Federal Government to make more resources available to support you. As private companies, we pay taxes to the Federal Government and we want to see a more judicious use of the taxes paid.”
On her part, Okah-Donli said UNESCO ranks human trafficking as the third most lucrative criminal enterprise in Nigeria. Thus, agencies like NAPTIP need good laws, sustained funding and critical support from local and global stakeholders to execute the urgent war against human trafficking.
“We can no longer wait for government alone to fight this war. Many victims are on standby, anxious to be fully reintegrated into society. At the agency, we are desperate for assistance to empower and rehabilitate these millions of victims in need. Thus, we are identifying and approaching organizations like the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) for support,” she said.
She said the agency needs to refurbish and rehabilitate its existing shelters, facilitate the periodic provision of food, clothing and medical consumables and shelter for victims, as well as assistance in the development of standard skills’ acquisition centres in strategic locations for the training of vulnerable persons, as well as rescued victims.