As a prelude to discussing this topic, I find it absolutely expedient to recap what premeditated the Nigerian government’s plan to evacuate its more than 12,000 citizens studying and living in Ukraine.
Russia began a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022, in an escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian War that began in 2014. The invasion is the largest conventional military attack on a sovereign state in Europe since World War II.
Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama had disclosed that Air Peace and Max Air have begun the evacuation of Nigerians from Ukraine on March 2. This development followed the approval of the exercise by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Neighbouring Romania and Hungary have since granted visa-free access to Nigerians fleeing the East European nation of Ukraine ravaged by War.
A statement issued early in March this year by the Country Representative of Ukrainian Universities in Nigeria, Dr Cliff Ogbeide said that more than 12,000 Nigerians are currently studying in Ukrainian universities.
President Buhari’s magnanimity in approving the sum of $8.5m to immediately evacuate 5,000 Nigerians from Ukraine would no doubt go a long way in saving the lives of Nigerian students resident in Ukraine. Those to be evacuated include 940 from Romania, 150 from Slovakia and 350 from Poland among others taking refuge.
It’s very commendable that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, its counterparts in the Humanitarian Affairs and the Nigerian Missions in Russia and Ukraine have since the beginning of the War not rested on their oars in coming to the rescue of the Nigerian students.
Back home in Abuja, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, had said that he also summoned both the Russian and Ukrainian Ambassadors to his ministry and did emphasize the need for their troops to ensure that they do not do anything that will harm the lives of innocent citizens.
“We have seen video clips making the rounds about the alleged treatment that had been meted out to black people who were on queues and in buses and all that.
”All these we have brought to the attention of the ambassadors and we have expressed our displeasure at this development and demanded that they do something about this.”
In addition to feeding the students before their evacuation to Nigeria, the students, almost all of whom were sponsored by their parents, were given $100 each (about N48, 000) on arrival at Abuja Airport by the Federal Government to enable them travel to their various destinations.
Nigeria’s swiftness towards evacuating its citizens from the war ravaged Ukraine is an action to beat and an unparalleled decision by the powers that be for its concern about lives. This proactiveness in governance by the Nigerian government needs acknowledgement and commendation from all and sundry.