Ukraine-Russia conflict: Fleeing Africans lament poor treatment at border

By Joseph Erunke

ABUJA: Peeved by the harrowing experiences Nigerian citizens underwent in Ukraine following its ongoing invasion by Russia, the Nigerian Youth Union, NYU, has appealed to the federal government to adopt more proactive strategies to protect its citizens in foreign nations, especially during emergencies.

The group, in a statement, expressed displeasure over government late hour intervention in Ukraine even when intelligence report by the United States of America that Russia was planning the invasion.

National President of NYU, Comrade Chinonso Obasi, in the statement, released Monday, said he was unimpressed with the federal government’s handling of the safety of Nigerians in Ukraine, especially students after Russia invaded the country.

Açcording to him, Nigerians were subjected to various acts of social abuse, degradation, and molestation at the Ukraine borders due to the nonchalant attitude of the government.

 Obasi, who is a former National President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), expressed dismay that the Federal Government dithered in evacuating Nigerians from the troubled country despite early warning signals.

   “There was early intelligence that Russia would invade Ukraine in a question of days. Governments of other countries mobilized resources and reached out to their nationals in the country, But, Nigeria developed indifference.

   “We have seen this show of unconcern on many occasions. When the xenophobic attacks broke out in South Africa last year, the Federal Government did not deem it fit to rise for the protection of its citizens until a private citizen, Chief Allen Onyema, volunteered to evacuate them.

  “We at the NYU condemn this penchant the Nigeria Federal Government for abandoning Nigerians abroad to their fate without regards to the protection and preservation of their interests in foreign countries. This attitude does not enhance patriotism nor uplift the image of the country in the comity of nations,” Obasi stated.

  NYU, however, commended Sokoto State governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, for ensuring that Sokoto indigenes in Ukraine were airlifted early enough when signs of impending hostilities between Russia and Ukraine emerged.

  While noting the impact of Diaspora remittances on Nigeria’s economy, the Nigeria Youth Union said it does not make sense that the government would demonstrate similar apathy to citizens’ welfare towards Nigerians abroad, stressing that it is not only distressing but also demoralizing.

   NYU added: “It is possible that this lackadaisical attitude of government prompted the refusal of Nigerian citizens in Ukraine to elect to stay back in Ukraine or be taken other countries instead of being brought back to Nigeria.”

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