2023 GOVERNORSHIP AND
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Sudan: Women, Children prioritised as FG evacuates Nigerians; says no Nigerian has been lost; spends $1.2m
Nigeria’s Federal Government on Wednesday formally reacted to the ongoing crisis in Sudan saying no single Nigerian soul has been lost to the civil war.
It, however, disclosed that many Nigerians had already been evacuated by sea with the assistance of Saudi Arabian government.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, and the Minister of State, Zubairu Dada, made this known while speaking with newsmen after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Srate House, Abuja.
Commenting on the evacuation process of stranded Nigerians in Sudan, Dada said the Nigerian government had successfully secured permission and authorization from the Sudanese government to evacuate Nigerians from the war torn country.
According to him: “The evacuation is being done in batches to ensure the safety of all Nigerians, but the good news is that no Nigerian life has been lost so far. I think it’s important to stress that all Nigerians are very safe and we’re very confident and hopeful that we shall not lose any Nigerian life Insha Allah in this exercise. All is well and we’re good to go”.
Asked if all Nigerians will be evacuated before the 72-hour window, he said “we have no problem about the 72 hour window. Because we’ve talked to all the authorities concerned and we’re on the same page, but talking about the window, we are making every effort to ensure that we make use of this window to evacuate as many Nigerians as we possibly can.”
Dada also disclosed that some Nigerians have already been evacuated by ship by the government of Saudi Arabia.
His words: “Let me also add that some Nigerians have actually been evacuated by ship, I guess from Port Sudan, by the government of Saudi Arabia. Don’t forget, this is a joint effort. We have friendly nations that are ready to assist, you know, so that we’re having to record that the Saudi authorities have been able to pick up some Nigerians, they’re transporting them by ship, I guess to Saudi Arabia, to Jeddah in particular. From where, of course, again, we’ll link up and find a way of bringing them back from Jeddah those that succeed in going to Jeddah”.
On the order of priority of those to be evacuated, Dara said: “all lives are equal. Certainly, we won’t want to give preference to diplomats. The diplomats are just as good as every other Nigerian, so we will take them all on board depending on who’s ready and available at any point in time.
He explained that in the order of evacuation, women and children will be prioritised, adding that diplomats will not be evacuated before students and other Nigerians.
Also speaking, Onyeama said: “With regards to the evacuation of Nigerians in the Sudan, you’ll recall that the main challenge we had was securing some permission, first of all authorization of the Sudanese government and, and then, you know, some security support for the convoy because its been decided that we will transport or convey the Nigerians to the Egyptian border Aswan.
“So that’s what we decided. We are liaising with our embassy in Egypt as well. So we’ve been able to overcome a number of challenges and have started the process which we’re very happy about. We secured significant number of luxurious buses because the distances are quite considerable. We started the process and it will take, you know, maybe a couple of days to evacuate everybody.”
“As regards the gender question, I think that’s obviously something we will have to look into in a bit more detail, but I think ordinarily, it will be appropriate that women and children should be given priority I think that goes without saying”.
Asked what the evacuation exercise was costing Nigerian government, Onyeama said: “$1.2 million is what we’re being charged for all the 40 buses. We have huge transporter luxury buses made available to us to transport to the Egyptian border. Of course you know, because of the risks involved and so many other things, a lot of people are going to also take advantage, you’re going to hike up the price. We saw that the French convoy was attacked and so forth. It was difficult procuring these buses. But we had to do it because you know, Nigerian lives matters for us.”
Onyeama also explained that the Director-General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Muhammadu Muhammed, was already on ground in Egypt and coordinating the logistics with embassy staff to ensure a smooth evacuation process.
He said: “Now, regarding the evacuation process, what we are primarily responsible for, is to ensure the safe evacuation from Egypt, of all the Nigerians who want to leave. The numbers as the honourable minister has said, have left through various borders, and by ship thanks to the Saudis.
“So the exact numbers that will now make it on that convoy to Egypt is not exactly clear at the moment. But once they get there is from Aswan, as the Honorable Minister has also said, the director general of NEMA is there, and they are now going to take over with regards to getting them back to Nigeria.
“So whether they use military transport planes, C-130, I spoke to the Chief of Defence Staff, and he indicated that there were some military transport planes that will be available. And of course, you mentioned you know, Airpeace making that offer and there are other airlines, too, that their owners might also want to make an offer, but we will leave it to never to coordinate who they use to transport by air, these citizens of ours”.
Contents provided and/or opinions expressed here do not reflect the opinions of The Pacesetter Frontier Magazine or any employee thereof.
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