The first batch of Nigerians evacuated from Ukraine has arrived at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja.
The Max Air flight arrived landed in the Nations capital around 7.11am on Friday, 4th March 2022. A total of 411 evacuees and consular staff were on the flight.
The evacuees were received at the airport in Abuja by Edward Adedokun, director search and rescue of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA); officials of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), andThe National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
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The flight was earlier scheduled to arrive on Thursday, but it was delayed. Daily Trust reports that the refusal of some Ukraine-based Nigerians to board evacuation planes back home frustrated the commencement of the evacuation.
An senior government official who confided in Daily Trust said on Thursday,
“The reluctance of some of the evacuees to return home made the trip impossible. The airline got only half of the passengers that can fill the entire plane. There was an arrangement to bring back those who agreed to return, but the airline refused to fly a half-filled plane.
“Thankfully, the issue has been resolved and more of the evacuees have been convinced to return home. The flight should be on its way back home on Friday. Those who have agreed will be profiled ahead of the journey back home.”
The Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyema spoke about some Nigerians who preferred to remain in Europe when he met with Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives.
“We hope to start evacuation hopefully Wednesday, although some do not want to come back,” the minister had said.
While briefing the House of Representatives on the evacuation efforts, Goeffrey Onyema stated that, “We made Romania the hub and over a thousand Nigerians have crossed there. Poland has about 250, Budapest in Hungary has a similar number, Slovakia is rising rapidly. It is also around 200. There are some Nigerians in a place called Sumy close to the Russian border.
“I have been in touch with the ambassador. There are about 150 of them who are looking to cross into Russia and we have asked the ambassador in Russia to try and get a permit for them to transit to Russia and hopefully by Wednesday we will start deploying planes to start bringing the Nigerians,” the minister said.
Christian Ugwu, Nigeria’s Ambassador to Poland also spoke on Nigerians affected by the crisis refusal to come back to the country, when he featured on a television programme on Wednesday.
“I have addressed the Nigerians not to stay outside the hotel premises where we have accommodated them. By the time they go to the streets, the police will arrest them, and most of them do not have their passports with them. So, they have been advised to stay within their hotel premises until when the aircraft comes. But the problem we are envisaging is that many of them don’t want to leave Poland, and this is not possible,” he had said.
A Nigerian Medical Student in Kyiv, Treasure Chinenye Bellgam captured the reasoning behind Nigerians refusal to return home in a quote attributed to her on Daily Trust,
“Most Nigerians who are here on hustle are not willing to leave, they prefer to die here. It’s like after God has lifted you one step higher you want to go two steps backward, it’s like being demoted. But you need a lot of humility to go back to Nigeria because some people sold lands, cars, and the rest to come here and they have amazing stories.”
Another Nigerian was speaking about the issues said that “Considering the economy in Nigeria, I think a lot of people would look for the safest place here than returning to Nigeria. They should do it (supply of aircraft) so that it becomes a choice for those who would want to stay back or those who want to return.”
Nnamdi Maduakor is a Writer, Investor and Entrepreneur
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