It is no longer news that 640 Nigerians would be evacuated from South Africa this week following the xenophobic attacks that rocked the former apartheid nation in the beginning of September. The Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Diaspora Commission Abike Dabiri-Erewa stated this on Monday when she appeared before the Senate Committee on Diaspora. She said that two airplanes would convey the 640 Nigerians in a couple of days.
From my investigation, being someone who has lived in South Africa before, who understands the terrain, those who have decided to return voluntarily are those who have suffered major attacks at the hands of South Africans. It would surprise you that about 75 percent of the returnees lost everything they had during the xenophobic attacks.
Helping them return to Nigeria is not the issue, the crux of the matter is what plan does the government have for them. In a sane country, citizens who suffered major attacks in another country are often integrated back to their home country by the government. The government gives them money for business, enroll them at skills acquisition centers or help them to learn a trade, those who are still young get a scholarship to study at the University.
The case of Nigeria is pathetic, once a returnee arrives Muritala Mohammed International Airport, he or she is seen as an ex-convict or a rebel. The little money the person is having, the immigration officers will collect it after threatening to send the person to Panti or Alagbon. The case of Libya returnees is an example.
I hereby appeal to the Federal Government of Nigeria to support each of the 640 returnees with $5,000 each. This will help them start life all over again because many of them lost all they have made to the xenophobic attacks. We have the money, if the Federal Government could budget N2.8billion for RUGA which favours only the Fulani extraction, why can’t they support our brothers and sisters who are in need of assistance.
Nigerians in Diaspora are a major contributor to the economy of Nigeria. Last year Remittances from the Nigerian Diaspora broke a new record in 2018, rising to $25 billion from $22 billion in 2017, according to the PricewaterhouseCoopers audit firm’s report on the country.