The federal government says Nigerian students stranded in Sudan will likely receive at least $100 upon evacuation and return to Nigeria. The stipend would be given to help them settle down before joining their families.
“NEMA will decide what would be given to the returnees because the funding is with the ministry of humanitarian affairs and disaster management. Usually it is just a little amount,” said Abike Dabiri-Erewa, the chairwoman of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) in Abuja on Thursday during the weekly ministerial briefing organised by the presidential communications team.
The federal government official added, “The last one we gave them, we evacuated people, we gave them $100. So, it depends on the budget they have. But we in NIDCOM give them recharge cards, SIM cards and sometimes phones. Usually, they get $100 just to hold, and these are students coming back to their families. They are not refugees. They have homes.”
Ms Dabiri-Erewa revealed that 13 buses had departed Sudan for the Egyptian border Aswan, where the returnees would be airlifted to Nigeria. The government official said over 5,500 Nigerian students in Sudan would be among the first Nigerian nationals to be evacuated.
“We have some buses that have departed from the African International University in Khartoum, Sudan, and as I speak, I think they are just about two hours away from Aswan in Cairo,” stated Ms Dabiri-Erewa. “Others departed from the Elrazi University also in Khartoum. All in all, 13 buses have departed for the Aswan border in Egypt, where they will be received by the Nigerian Ambassador there and the Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Habib Ahmed, who is already there with some officials.”
According to the NIDCOM chairwoman, it is now time for Nigeria to focus more on Nigerians in Sudan and other parts of Africa because many reside in African countries.
“When we were talking about diaspora voting, some people were saying when we do that, it may not augur well. But we said no, we need to go to places like Sudan where we have millions of Nigerians who migrated there years ago, and they have relationships and businesses there,” stated Ms Dabiri-Erewa.
According to her, the federal government is working on data on Nigerians living in the beleaguered northern African nation.
“But I want to tell you categorically that by the time we finish the research we are doing, perhaps Sudan would be one of the largest areas where we have the largest concentration of Nigerians in the diaspora,” Ms Dabiri-Erewa explained. “Every time we focus on Europe, America and all that, it is time to focus on Africa and Africans in the diaspora.”
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