The Federal Government of Nigeria has announced the arrangement of a special flight operation for the evacuation of Nigerians caught in the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, disclosed this in an exclusive interview with NTA. He said the Nigerian embassy in Kyiv has been contacted to arrange those wishing to return home from other areas including Donestk and Luhensk.
The minister assured Nigerians that the ministry is following the event since the beginning and promised to do everything for the safety of Nigerians in Ukraine, particularly students.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had earlier on Thursday, February 24, assured Nigerians of the safety of its citizens in Ukraine.
In a statement signed by Francisca K. Omayuli, spokesperson, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, disclosed that measures are being undertaken to keep Nigerians safe and facilitate the evacuation of those who wish to leave.
Speaking with Daily Trust via telephone, Edidiong Cyprian Ukpakha, a Nigerian who has lived in Ukraine’s Kiev for many years, dismissed the plans by the Federal government to evacuate them, stating that it is unrealistic considering the closure of the air space and due to past unfulfilled promises of evacuation. He said:
“I was here in 2013 during a similar crisis when they promised to evacuate Nigerians and they never did. So, this is the attitude of every Nigerian in Ukraine that they will promise and not fulfill.”
Cyprian described the circular from the Nigerian embassy calling on Nigerians to be responsible for their protection and safety as appalling when “other countries are making provisions on how to evacuate the citizens, providing phone lines to call, shelter and aids to their people and the Nigerian government is telling us ‘You are on your own’.” He added:
“Let’s tell ourselves the truth, there is no airspace to fly in, America evacuated her citizens a long time ago, and other countries.
Now Russian troops are all over Ukraine already. We rely on the prayers of Nigerian pastors and bishops to save us from this. The Nigerian embassy here are not helping matters and they don’t want to hear the truth.”
Treasure Chinenye Bellgam, a medical student in Kiev, said the government’s gesture is good although she has some reservations. She said:
“I am a believer in Christ Jesus and I have to ask God for direction whether to return to Nigeria or not. 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.”
Similarly, Julius, a Nigerian living in Kiev, said the announcement to evacuate Nigerians is a good idea but will not be heeded by Nigerians in Ukraine. He said:
“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.”
See a copy of the statement below…
Meanwhile see reactions to the statement released below…