The evacuation of Nigerians stranded in Ukraine will commence on Wednesday .
This was made known by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Godfrey Onyeama during a meeting with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila at the National Assembly complex, Abuja yesterday.
The minister confirmed to the speaker that things were under control in war torn Ukraine, as the Federal Government had established necessary arrangements in place to secure the safe return of Nigerians.
Onyeama revealed that in the last few days, the ministry, in conjunction with the missions, had finalized formalities for Nigerians to travel to safe border points from where they would be moved in buses to the airports in neighbouring countries.
Also, the Minister listed Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary and even Russia, among the countries to be used as exit points.
The minister further announced that there were about 5,600 Nigerian students in Ukraine, added that there were also non-students, some of whom might not have been lawfully documented.
He noted that working closely with the governments of those countries, the ministry had obtained their cooperation to grant access to Nigerians into their territories, preparatory for the evaluation.
The minister refuted reports that Africans, especially Nigerians, were not permitted to vacate Ukraine or granted access into the neighbouring countries, condemning the unrest at some of the borders on “panic” and the fact that so many people were rushing at the time on hearing the sound of bombs and artillery fire.
“Where we are now is the point of ascertaining the exact number we are dealing with and to agree on the location for the evaluation.
“We are thinking Bucharest; but all of this is being sorted out and we are constantly working to ensure that everything goes on very smoothly,” Onyeama state.
Also, Onyeama clarified that the wait in evacuating Nigerians wasn’t because the government wasn’t ready or didn’t know what to do.
“80 per cent to 90 per cent” of countries and people did not believe that Russia would indeed seize Ukraine, according to him.
“I was in touch with our ambassador early enough and he assured us that there was no need for evacuation. The students even said there was no problem at all.
“Also, the Ukrainian government did not want people to leave, and especially because most of our people are students, who will not be able to go back to Ukraine again, should they leave,”
Gbajabiamila communicated satisfaction over the measure put in place, emphasizing the need for the country to find ways to hasten its reaction time to emergencies.
He pointed out that response mechanisms, including funds, aeroplanes and other equipment, must readily be on standby to respond to life-threatening situations such as the invasion of Ukraine by Russia and how they affected Nigerians.
“We must be in a state of readiness at all times. We should have our own planes and necessary funding to respond quickly to such emergencies,” the speaker said.