NIGERIA’S federal cabinet has just approved a sum of $85m for the funding of the evacuation of Nigerian refugees stranded in Ukraine and its neighbours as the ongoing war in the Black Sea enters its seventh day.
Over the last week, what started out as sabre rattling between Russian and Ukraine has now metamorphosised into full scale war. As a result, most countries are organising airlifts of their citizens in Ukraine but Nigeria has been slow to react, leaving her 5,600 or so nationals, mainly students, facing an uncertain future.
Amid calls for the Nigerian government to do something about their plight, the House Representatives invited the foreign minister Godfrey Onyeama to come and explain the official policy on the matter on Monday. At a meeting with Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, the speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Onyeama revealed that the first batch of Nigerians will be evacuated today Wednesday, March 2.
At the meeting presided over by vice president Professor Yemi Osinbajo today, Nigeria’s Federal Executive Council met in Abuja and approved the sum of $8.5m to fund the operation. Although President Muhammadu Buhari is currently in Kenya at a United Nations Environmental Programme summit, he approved the measure.
Zubairu Dada, Nigeria’s minister of state for foreign affairs, said Air Peace and Max Air airlines have been selected to provide three aircraft to facilitate the evacuation of Nigerians. Nigeria’s embassies in Romania, Hungary, and Poland have received over 256 stranded Nigerians from Ukraine.
Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary and even Russia, are among the countries to be used as exit points. Mr Onyeama, who said there were about 5,600 Nigerian students in Ukraine, added that there were also non-students, some of whom might not have been legally documented.