By Victoria Ojeme
ABUJA—Country Director-General, International Centre for Migration Policy Development, ICMPD, Michael Spindelegger, has said about 1000 Nigerians in Austria would soon be repatriated.
Spindelegger, who gave the hint, yesterday, at the meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said the repatriation was being put on hold for now to enable Austrian firms set up in the country and provide gainful employment for those to be repatriated.
He added that the proposed programme would facilitate reversed migration of the irregular migrants, who had no likelihood of being given legal residence in Austria.
He said: “It is a new idea of how to combine future investment in Nigeria with the return of irregular migrants. A lot of companies are interested in investing in Nigeria because of its market.
‘’The idea is to train these irregular migrants before repatriating them so that when they come back, they will have something to do, instead of becoming liabilities.
“The idea is also to encourage more Austrian companies to come and invest in Nigeria so that they also could contribute to solving the problem of unemployment and irregular migration.”
Spindelegger noted that there was no provision for asylum in Europe and added that in a situation where an emigrant failed to secure asylum, the person would be deported in the long run.
In his remarks, Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffery Onyema, said the initiative would not only have Nigerians come back home to contribute to national development, the country also stood to benefit from foreign investors.
On how soon the project will take off, the minister said it would depend on the companies that are part of the programme.
He said: “It could be companies in Austria that are interested in investing in any sector of Nigerian economy. They would be selecting from Nigerian irregular migrants in Austria, train them and send them down to Nigeria to work with their companies in Nigeria.”
He, however, dismissed fears of likely ploy to deport Nigerians in the country through the process.
He said further: “Remember that those Nigerians are in that country illegally, and do not have any prospect of regularizing their stay. As such, they would be deported in any case.
“So, instead of being deported with the shame that comes with it, they would be given training and guaranteed employment with the companies that would be coming to invest in Nigeria.’’