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March 2, 2022

Evacuate 8000 Nigerians in Ukraine, not students alone — Ex-ambassador, Gana Yisa tells FG

President Muhammadu Buhari

By Demola Akinyemi, Ilorin.

Former Nigeria Ambassador to Japan, Professor Gana Yisa, has urged the federal government to ensure that every Nigerian in war-ridden Ukraine is brought back to the country, and not to restrict evacuation to students alone.

Professor Gana, who said that many countries had evacuated their citizens from Ukraine long before the war started, having seen the preparedness of Russia and her inevitability to attack Ukraine wondered why Nigeria didn’t follow suit.

It is recalled that the Nigeria Minister of Foreign Affairs had earlier said that only 2,000 Nigerian students in war-torn Ukraine would be evacuated to Nigeria since they had travelled there for personal businesses.

But Nigeria’s envoy to Japan, who described the attack on Ukraine by Russia as unwarranted and most unfortunate, lamented that Nigeria had not been proactive in handling issues of her citizens in Ukraine.

Professor Gana, also former Commissioner for Agriculture, and former Deputy Speaker in Kwara state before his ambassadorial appointment, spoke in an interview with journalists in Ilorin on Wednesday.

He said, “As a country, we are used to firing- brigade approach. But we must have learnt that it doesn’t work. We have to be proactive, be willing and able to take care of our citizens wherever they are.

” There are up to 8,000 Nigerians there and the government is looking forward to evacuating 2,000 in the next couple of days. The question is what happens to others? he queried.

” I also heard the minister said some people went there on their own as if they are not Nigerian citizens. A good government doesn’t do that. A citizen of this country is a citizen of this country, no matter where he or she finds himself or herself.

” To say that those people should be responsible for themselves is an unfortunate statement. I finished as an envoy, Nigeria’s number one envoy to Japan, and during Covid-19, we were worried about every Nigerian and we warned everybody to stay indoors.

” So, every citizen of Nigeria should be seen as very important to this country, most of whom are there went for greener pasture. If we have worked assiduously and made our country attractive, maybe some of them wouldn’t have gone there”, he said.

Continuing, he said,”that is why we are having Nigerians becoming refugees in neighbouring countries as far as I know.

“Nigeria seems to be in the forefront among very few countries that are in the critical situation of managing their citizens in Ukraine. Most other countries evacuated their citizens like a week before the actual attack took place because we all saw how Russia was building up along the Russia/Ukraine borders and those who know the person of the Russian president, Putin, would anticipate that with that level of build-up that it was inevitable that Russia will at a point attack Ukraine.

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“Therefore, we should have evacuated our citizens, very young people, students who have gone there to acquire education and they are now being subjected to very difficult conditions of lack of where to stay, no food.

“We thank God that neighbouring countries have allowed them to enter their countries, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria. “

Professor Gana-Yisa, who just received one of the highest awards from the Emperor of Japan, Order of the Rising Sun, last Monday, said that war has never resolved any crisis and it cannot resolve it, stressing “and at the end of the day the countries would still come back to the roundtable for negotiation.

“I also join the rest of the world to call on Russia to rethink their stand. Nobody prides itself for being an attacker; attacking other countries and even threatening those who are supporting Ukraine. You can not fight the whole world. We thought the world has come to a situation where we should not expect wars. We thought Second World War ended with Hitler and Germany. We are not expecting that any country would stand up and start attacking its neighbour, even if they are smaller, less powerful, they are sovereign countries”.

Professor Gana-Yisa also described the prestigious award from the Japanese government as a reward for his exploits in Japan that was aimed at improving relationships between the two countries.

He said, “The award, ‘Order of the rising sun/ gold and silver stamp’ is one of the highest awards given by the Japanese government in the name of Emperor, and that award has been given since 1875, is not an award that started overnight. It has been there for more than two centuries. So when I went to Japan as Nigeria Ambassador, just in my character, whatever assignment or responsibility have been given, I try my very best to discharge my responsibilities as required. So, I was there doing the job assigned to me by Mr President, to be his principal representative in Japan.

“But as an Ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary is a representative that could, if need be, make a decision on behalf of Mr President and by implication, on behalf of the country, so getting to Japan, I saw some of the things that were happening there that were not promoting the very good image of the country, so I took certain decisions to change that image for good”.

Vanguard News Nigeria