Frank Obeahon is a physically challenged tailor in Benin City , Edo State .
He shares his experience on how he was stranded in Libya after a failed attempt to migrate to Europe
Who is Frank Obeahon?
I was born on April 9 , 1990 . I am from the Esan South – East Local Government Area of Edo State.
My parents gave birth to nine children, but only seven of us are alive today .
I am the first son .
However , my mum died on December 11, 2014 , while my dad followed on May 5 , 2020.
They both died from complications from separate motor accidents .
As the first child, how have you been coping with the responsibilities of raising your siblings ?
For now , I am not yet married .
I am managing my life the way it is and I have ensured that my siblings get the needed attention.
Some of them are in secondary schools , while those who have graduated are currently acquiring skills in different fields so that they will become entrepreneurs and become useful to society.
How come that you have one leg?
I was born this way. It was not a case of amputation .
My mother told me that this was how she gave birth to me .
She took me to several hospitals and she was told that there was nothing wrong with me and that that was how God created me .
So , I accepted it that way.
You attempted to leave Nigeria some time ago , what prompted your decision and what were you doing before making that move?
I was at the Ambrose Alli University in Ekpoma studying Economics , but dropped out of school in 2013 after spending just a year , because my parents could no longer afford to train me .
The situation was worsened by the fact that my mum and dad were separated before that time ; it became difficult for me .
There was no one to sponsor my education
. I was stressing myself in the school environment trying to see if I could train myself , but I discovered it was not working , so , that was how I made up my mind to travel out of the country for greener pastures .
I left with four of my friends but unfortunately for me , the sojourn was not successful .
Where did you go to and how did you leave Nigeria ?
Like I said earlier, I left Nigeria with four of my friends by road from Nigeria to Libya .
The journey was rough but because my mind was made up , I decided to face the difficult situation.
It was stressful travelling on road from Nigeria to Libya , and when we got there , I discovered that I was no longer living a free life unlike the situation in Nigeria .
I felt I was living in a dangerous environment .
Libya was not my destination ; I had intended to proceed to Italy.
I became stranded in Libya because I did not have money with me to proceed to Italy .
At some points, my other four friends left Libya , because their parents sent money to them .
Some went beyond Italy to Germany, Holland, and the United Kingdom .
Sadly, I spent eight months in Libya before I made up my mind to return to Nigeria .
How did you feel when your friends left you behind ?
I felt pained because I did not have any sponsor , otherwise , we would have continued the journey together to Italy.
They had the support of their parents, unfortunately, I did not have .
Why did you say you thought I could easily get to Europe through Libya, but I was stranded there for eight months living a dangerous life in Libya?
Firstly , the change of environment brought about health issues and I did not have a good place to lay my head at night .
I did not sleep comfortably for eight months .
Again, the kind of job I was doing was risky .
I was selling drugs for someone from the Middle East.
It was a dangerous job , but I needed to survive, because I was only thinking of how to raise money to continue with my journey .
What kind of drugs were you selling ?
I was selling weed (Indian hemp ) or crap to those who needed it .
I was not taking it though.
How will you describe your stay in Libya?
I was never free in Libya the way I am in Nigeria.
I was always living in fear because the moment you are identified as a stranger , there will be no trust at all.
You cannot just go out freely the way you do in Nigeria .
So , why do we have so many Nigerians in Libya if the situation is like you have painted?
Most people that found themselves in Libya never expected that they would stay there.
It is more like a transit country where migrants proceed to Europe , which is their destination.
But they get stuck when they cannot raise funds to continue with their trip to Europe.
Libya is an easy route to Europe through the sea, that is why most desperate Africans , who want to go to Europe , pass through there; it is a better route than Morocco .
There are a lot of Nigerians and other citizens from Africa who are trapped in Libya .
How do they survive ?
Once you are identified as a stranded migrant, you get the worst of treatment in Libya ; that is why they do not live like free people .
How did you survive Libya despite your disability ?
I was motivated to carry on with what I was doing because of my very poor background .
I was determined to break even and move away from poverty ; that was what kept me going.
I also didn’ t want my siblings to be that poor like the way my mum and dad were before they died .
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Are there migrant Nigerians in Libya who do legitimate jobs?
I do not know much about that because my interest in Libya was strictly how to gather money to continue with my trip.
My destination was Italy from where I could access other European countries .
How did you feel when you discovered that you could not proceed further from Libya?
I felt pained and so bad , but God knew the best for me .
I was not living a responsible life in Libya , and the so – called money I was looking for was not forthcoming .
The aim of my travelling was to make money but when I found out that it was not working , I returned to Nigeria .
It was shortly after I came back that my mum passed away .
Now you are back in Nigeria struggling to make a living, but there are lots of physically challenged persons in the country who take to begging for survival .
What is your advice for them ?
It is the worst thing to do .
I will not advise a physically challenged person to go begging for survival let alone a complete human being .
It is bad and it should never be encouraged .
The idea of begging never occurred to me ; that is why I have always find a way around my situation so that I can fulfil my destiny as ordained by God Almighty .
So , how can the government address the issue of street begging that has become a common sight in major cities ?
I think the government should think of training these beggars so that they can acquire relevant skills .
I agree that some able – bodied people naturally are lazy and they think begging is the way out , but it is not the best .
The government can empower those who have been trained to be on their own and by so doing , I am sure that the number of beggars will reduce on our streets .
How can the government encourage those in your type of situation to get better ?
Although I think that I can still travel out through legitimate route , if I get some sort of boost to expand my tailoring business , it will make me concentrate the more on what I am doing .
I am not saying I am not concentrating , but with a little financial intervention , it can be better .
How can the Federal Government discourage migration through illegal routes ?
The truth is that people consider travelling out because of frustration they are facing in the country.
If they are engaged through employment , a lot of people will jettison the idea of travelling out for greener pastures .
Travelling through these routes is an issue of life and death and the chances of getting to the destination are 50- 50 because a lot of people die in the process .
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