In recognition of the growing concerns around human trafficking in Africa, The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), an African founded and funded 21st century philanthropic organization committed to youth empowerment and entrepreneurship development, hosted the Director General of Nigeria’s National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Julie Okah-Donli.
According to Okah-Donli, UNESCO ranks human trafficking as the third most lucrative criminal enterprise in Nigeria. Thus, agencies like NAPTIP need good laws, sustained funding and equally important, 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 continued: “We need to refurbish and rehabilitate our existing shelters, facilitate periodic provision of food, clothing and medical consumables and shelter for victims. We also need assistance in the development of standard skills’ acquisition centres in strategic locations for the training of vulnerable persons, as well as rescued victims.”
In response, Mr. Tony Elumelu CON, Founder, Tony Elumelu Foundation, commended Okah-Donli for her accomplishments at the agency, including the conviction of over 325 persons, and successful rehabilitation of more than 12,000 victims. He also added that she was a former staff of leading pan-African bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA). “She is an alumna of the United Bank for America (UBA), Africa’s global bank, thus we are not surprised at what she has become. We predicted that she will attain such great heights because of the passion she has always had for human trafficking,” he said
On behalf of the Foundation, he pledged commitment to the war against human trafficking. “We support what you are doing and we stand behind you. 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.”
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.”
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.”