By Uche Amunike
The Buhari-led Government of Nigeria has announced the commencement of the official evacuation of stranded Nigerians from Ukraine, effective Wednesday 2nd March 2022.
This was made public in a meeting held between the Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) and members of the House of Representatives, shortly after the Hungarian and Romanian government gave visa-free access to both Nigerian nationals and students who were stranded at the Ukrainian border.
During the meeting, Onyeama updated members of the House of Representatives on the evacuation efforts so far, stating that over 1,000 Nigerians have crossed over to Romanian since it was made a hub while Poland had about 250 people. Hungary had almost the same number as well as Slovakia.
He reiterated that he was already in touch with the Ambassador and that there were about 150 people from Nigeria attempting to cross over to Russia which made him ask the Russian Ambassador to help in getting a permit for them to aid them in transiting successfully, so that hopefully by Wednesday, the deploying planes will begin to bring them home back to Nigeria.
He also explained that indigenous Nigerian airlines like Air Peace and Max Air will commence the evacuation of all her citizens that already crossed safely from Ukraine into neighbouring countries by this week.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja, on their part, affirmed in a statement signed by the Permanent Secretary, Ambassador, Gabriel Aduda, that all Chartered flights will depart on Wednesday March 2nd 2022 to pick up stranded Nigerians and bring them back home.
Vital information by the Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission- Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa giving guidelines for the evacuation and the safety of Nigerians in Ukraine. For more information please go to www.nidcom.gov.ng
According to the evacuation updates given by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 650 Nigerians have so far been received by the Nigerian Embassy in Hungary, Poland has received 350 Nigerians, while 940 of them have been received by Romania. The least of evacuees list stand at 150 at the Slovakian end.
Hear him: ‘The capacity and route of the airlines are as follows: Max Air to Romania 360 persons, Air Peace to Poland 364 persons and Air Peace to Hungary 360 persons.’
‘The first batch of evacuees are expected to arrive in Nigeria on Thursday March 3rd 2022′
‘Once again, we assure Nigerians that we are working around the clock to see that our citizens are put back home safely’, he concluded.
The General Manager, Operations, Max Air, Raymond Omodiagbe on his part, assured newsmen that they were set to begin the evacuation exercise of citizens, as requested by the Federal government.
They assured that they will commence Wednesday, as commissioned by the Buhari-led government, adding that even though they were not sure of the number of airplanes they would deploy for the evacuation exercise, they would take it one at a time.
According to the Federal government, about 2,000 Nigerians we are already in the different countries surrounding Ukraine and President Buhari has approved funds for the airlines to evacuate the affected Nigerians.
Onyeama concluded that it was not the sole responsibility of the Federal government to evacuate Nigerians who were stranded abroad as people who sponsored themselves to travel abroad are expected to return home by themselves, but however, the Federal government was doing what is best for the citizens by ensuring that they are safely brought back home at a time like this.