Another batch of 315 Nigerian returnees from South Africa arrived at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport on Wednesday, 18 September 2019, in high spirits as the Lagos government showered them with 50 dollars each.
The evacuation is facilitated by Air Peace, a private airline which deployed B777 aircraft with registration number 5N-BWI for the purpose.
With the return of the second batch, about 506 Nigerians are waiting to be evacuated, having voluntarily indicated interest to return to Nigeria.
The returnees were received by Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission; Air Peace Chairman, Allen Onyema and Jermaine Sanwo-Olu, Senior Special Assistant to the Lagos State Governor on Diaspora, who presented the token on behalf of Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
The cash gift, according to Jermaine Sanwo-Olu, is a palliative for the returnees and said that the returnees from Lagos State would be transferred to the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), where they would be trained on skill acquisition.
Dabiri-Erewa, who addressed the returnees, said that they would be profiled according to their states and local governments of origin to complement the federal government’s effort in reintegrating them.
She said that there was a medical team on ground to assist those with medical conditions and explained that the Nigeria High Commission was working with the South African authorities to reduce the unnecessary delays which had so far characterised the evacuation exercise.
Local media reports said that one of the returnees, Chuks Okoma from Delta State, thanked God for sparing his life considering the ordeal faced by Nigerians in South Africa.
Okoma said that he had been in South Africa for six years without a job and sleeping in the street.
Another returnee, Michael Udoh, narrated how some foreigners were burnt in South Africa, adding that they were unable to move around.
Udoh, who had been in South Africa for six years, said that the country refused to renew his work permit after it expired, thus making him jobless.
The reports added that the Chairman of the Airline said some Nigerians were stranded in South Africa for over four years and could not return home due to financial difficulties and lack of proper documentation.
“What Air Peace is doing to evacuate Nigerians from South Africa is part of our support to the President Muhammadu Buhari administration and we are doing it wholeheartedly.
“The airline is only asking the government to do what it has been doing to facilitate the smooth return of Nigerians,’’ he said.