The National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, has confirmed plans to evacuate over 2,000 Nigerians in crisis-hit Sudan this morning.
This came on a day management of Air Peace expressed its willingness to evacuate Nigerians stranded in the Horn of Africa country free of charge.
This is even as Chairman/CEO of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, NIDCOM, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, also yesterday encouraged Nigerian students in the war-torn country to remain in their universities to avert danger.
Recall that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffery Onyeama, had in an interview on Channels Television on Sunday night, said the only option remaining for Nigerians to be evacuated out of Sudan was through land, as the airport in the capital, Khartoum, had been shut, adding that the federal government was working with the Egyptian authorities to make this possible but didn’t say when the evuacuation would commence.
But speaking in an interview on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily yesterday, the Director, Special Duties, National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, Onimode Bandele, said: “The truth is nobody has been evacuated yet. I just spoke to the ambassador, Olaniyan, in Khartoum a few minutes ago.
“It is true that there are plans to get buses to start moving tomorrow morning (today). And as I speak to you, the Director General, National Emergency Management Agency, Mustapha Habib, is already in Cairo because that is the window we are looking at.”
According to him, the movement is to be perfected between the Nigerian embassy in Khartoum and the NEMA director-general.
On how many Nigerians to be evacuated from the troubled country, Bandele stated that evacuation of a few thousand citizens was in the works.
“Our projection was that most students and others who want to evacuate are about 5,000. But with my discussion with the ambassador this morning (yesterday), the plan is for about 2,650-2,800 to move immediately, including families of embassy staff.
“As these plans continue, we’ll be able to update you with the actual figure and the exact time of departure from Khartoum to Cairo,” he said.
Also yesterday, The management of Air Peace expressed its willingness to evacuate Nigerians stranded in Sudan free of charge.
The airline noted that Nigerian students and others stranded in Sudan needed help and would receive same should the federal government give it the nod to conduct the airlift.
It would be recalled that the airline in 2019, deployed flights to evacuate Nigerians in South Africa during the heat of the xenophobic attack against Africans living in that country.
Chairman of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, who disclosed this, said Nigerians stranded in the crisis-ridden country could be moved to a neigbouring country where the airline could evacuate them.
“I am compelled to help because Nigeria cannot afford to lose her citizens in that country. It would be my own commitment to make sure the stranded Nigerians in the war-torn country are safe.
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“Everything must not be left for government alone, especially as the situation calls for urgency and immediate action.
“Again, Air Peace is willing to evacuate Nigerians stranded in Sudan free of charge, if government can get them to a safe and secure airport in any of the neighbouring countries bordering Sudan.
“Everything must not be left for government alone. It will be a privilege and honour of tremendous pride that we will be out there to give every Nigerian stranded in Sudan a sense of pride and oneness in their country.
“We are very ready to do it immediately, no time wasting. Any action that would promote national pride, national cohesion, peace and unity, we are for it.
‘’Again, we have no apologies for believing in our nation and loving the nation, despite certain national challenges.
“If they are moved to Kenya or Uganda or any other country, we will move in to get them out. Some parents have started calling on us to help. We are ready to do this again and again,’’ Onyema said.
Dabiri-Erewa urges Nigerian students to remain on campus
Meanwhile, the Chairman/CEO, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, NIDCOM, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, yesterday cautioned Nigerian students in Sudan to remain in their universities to avert danger.
Dabiri-Erewa, who spoke in an interview on Channels Television, said: “The issue of those students that gathered together, took a bus somewhere, here’s the thing: they’ve all had to go back to their universities because it was very risky of them.
“Just imagine in a war situation, you just see 20 buses moving without any permission from the military authorities, we’ll endanger the lives. So, that is why they’ve had to return.”
The NIDCOM boss also cautioned against certain mobilisation efforts of the National Association of Nigeria Students, NANS, involving the pooling of funds to facilitate the transportation of Nigerian students in the North African country away from their campuses.
“NANS, which I understand came up with this thing of ‘pay $100, come somewhere, the things is, move to where? So, there’s no point taking you from one danger to another danger.
“There were some people that were leaving, that actually had to turn back because they would have been killed. So, now, they’ve returned to their various campuses,” she said.
She explained that the Nigerian mission had informed the students of a point of connection where buses would convey them.
The most likely places, according to her, would be some borders in Egypt from where the students would be transported home by air.
Dabiri-Erewa argued that there had been “tremendous progress”, noting that every Nigerian student now had a point of contact.
She added: “Buses will take them to a location. We’re looking at places in Egypt – Luxor and some other place there.
‘’So, really, there’s been tremendous progress, Mr President has given his nod immediately this happened, so there’s a lot.’’
More countries, including the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Japan and Korea, among others, deployed aircraft to Djibouti where they had started evacuating their citizens back home. Those trapped had earlier been airlifted to Djibouti.