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Sudan: Why Nigeria faces hurdles in evacuation of citizens –Official

Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of Nigeria's House of Representatives (far right) in a Meeting with Other Top Government Officials in Abuja, FCT

*The House of Representatives has met with relevant government ministries and agencies to fast-track safe return of Nigerian evacuees, as the Federal lawmakers move to investigate Egypt’s reluctance to grant returning Nigerians access into its territories amid the socio-economic dislocations in crisis-ridden Sudan

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Concerned about the relatively slow pace of evacuating stranded Nigerians amid the Sudan crisis, the House of Representatives in the National Assembly (NASS), Abuja, FCT, has stated the West African country should intensify efforts at ensuring the Federal Government safely evacuates its citizens back home.

Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the Lower House of NASS,  who said this during a situation report and update meeting held Tuesday, May 2, 2023, in Abuja, disclosed that the Federal lawmakers would examine, to eliminate the apparent confusion over the roles and jurisdiction of relevant government ministries and agencies in the management of the crisis involving Nigerians overseas.

In attendance at the meeting are Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Amb. Zubair Dada; Director-General, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs Social Development, Nasir Gwarzo; and other top officials of government.

The participants had briefed Gbajabiamila that thus far, about 5,500 Nigerians, mostly students, were safely evacuated from Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, and centre of the factional military confrontations.

ConsumerConnect reports the House of Representatives also noted that it would investigate the immediate and remote circumstances that led to the hard diplomatic stance of the Egyptian authorities over the plight of the affected Nigerians in Sudan.

The Nigerians being evacuated from the North African country are affected by the ongoing crisis.

Gbajabiamila also stressed nothing should be left to chance to jeopardise the efforts of the Federal Government to safely evacuate Nigerians home.

The House Speaker stated: “Our concern is to bring every Nigerian who wants to return home to Nigeria.”

Why lapses in evacuation operations from war-torn Sudan?

Expressing his displeasure  over the report that Nigerians though were evacuated from Sudan, got delayed at the Egyptian borders, Gbajabiamila noted the Egyptian authorities denied evacuees access to the country’s territories to continue with their journey homewards.

He, however, assured that the House would examine what was amiss and ensure that such did not happen again.

“Now we know what has been done so far.

“It is also heartwarming that borders are now open in Egypt.

“But we will take it up in parliament to find out why they didn’t open the borders in time, especially in a period of crisis like this.

“We are happy that all 5,500 Nigerians willing to leave Khartoum have been evacuated and are on their way home to Nigeria,” stated he.

NASS to review laws establishing NEMA, others

According to the Speaker, the Nigerian House of Representatives would revisit the law that made the National Emergency Management Agency the government agency responsible for taking charge of such evacuations for a possible review.

He also stressed this review had become necessary due to the lapses observed in the current evacuation operations in regard to the “overlapping roles” of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Humanitarian, Disaster Management and Social Development, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), and National Emergency Management Agency.

Other factors responsible for delayed evacuations of Nigerians: Perm. Secretary

Disclosing the details of the evacuation operations in Sudan earlier, Nasir Gwarzo, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs Social Development, said although Nigeria responded immediately to the situation by using a “multi-sectoral approach” involving his ministry, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and NiDCOM, the plans faced some initial challenges.

Accord to him, these included the isolation of Sudan as a country from the outside world with loose financial operations, making it difficult to move funds easily for emergencies.

The initial challenges, he stated, had been addressed, and noted that all Nigerians willing to return home had been evacuated by buses to Port Sudan, from where they would be airlifted.

Gwarzo said: “Our work is 24 hours on, and we are in contact with all student groups.

“Some of the videos you see on social media are a bit exaggerated and most of the issues have been well taken care of already.”

The top government official further disclosed that about five airlines, including a Sudanese carrier, would be involved in the airlifting the Nigerian evacuees, while another option of travelling by naval vessels within a seven-day duration was also being considered.

However, Gbajabiamila urged the evacuation team  to also consider the opinion of evacuating the returnees with large vessels that could accommodate almost everyone at once or twice.

This option, the Speaker suggested, would eliminate last-minute failure of air transport as nothing should be overlooked in a crisis such as Nigerians are facing with the Sudanese crisis.

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