PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has said that information available to him shows that only three of the 26 migrants who died in the Mediterranean and were buried in Italy recently were Nigerians.
He, however, said he would not be surprised if a majority of the deceased were Nigerians.
Buhari said this during a meeting he had with members of the Nigerian community in Cote d’Ivoire on Tuesday evening in Abidjan.
The President is in the country for the 5th European Union-African Union Summit.
He promised that his administration will do all within its power to make the country more conducive in order to discourage youths from embarking on risky trips out of the country for greener pasture.
He said efforts would be made to ensure that there will be less Nigerians daring the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea and getting perished.
Buhari said, “It was announced that 26 Nigerians died but before they could proved that they were all Nigerians, they were buried.
“But the evidence I got from my Senior Special Assistant on Diaspora Affairs now is that only three were identified as Nigerians. But I won’t be surprised if the majority of them were really Nigerians.
“For people to cross the Sahara Desert to go into shanty boats across the Mediterranean Sea, I think we will try and keep them at home.
“But for anyone who dared the desert and the Mediterranean without document to prove that he/she is a Nigerian, there is nothing we can do, absolutely nothing.
“In the interview some of you saw, some of the Nigerians said they were being sold like goats for a few dollars for years in Libya. Now after 43 years of Gaddafi where he recruited so many people from the Sahel including Nigeria and so on, all they learnt was how to shoot and kill. They didn’t learn to become electricians, plumbers or any other trade.
“So, when the Libyans stood against their leader, those who are not their people, they chased them out. A lot of them came back home with their workers, some of them participated in Boko Haram and become part of Boko Haram.”
Buhari admitted that security still remains Nigeria’s problem.
He said his administration has been engaging in talks with leaders of Niger Delta because of the importance of the region to the nation’s economy.
“I am telling you that our major problem as we have identified is still the security of the country. We have done much better; everybody is saying that.
“We are talking very regularly with the Niger Delta and the leadership because they know they are holding the throat of the country economically,” he said.
Buhari also said his administration was committed to repositioning the nation’s education sector because of his belief that once people are educated, they will look after themselves.
He admitted that there are a lot of work to be done back at home.
“We are doing our best and the leadership at all levels are doing their best and the problem we are having with those who are being indoctrinated and are hurting our people, blowing up people in mosques, churches, marketplaces, motor parks, this is absolute madness.
“No religion advocates violence. All religions advocate justice from your home, town, household to whatever you become. Justice is the basic thing; all religions demand it as you can’t go wrong if you do it.
“Whenever Nigerians are identified especially in Libya and so on, we hope to evacuate them back home and then rehabilitate them because the indoctrination is what is happening with the Boko Haram where girls will strap themselves mostly from the ages of 15 downwards and go to the market blow themselves up and anybody around in motor parks, mosques, churches and so on,” the President said.
Buhari urged Nigerians living in Côte d’Ivoire to be good ambassadors of Nigeria by obeying the law of their host country.
He urged them to also report those portraying the image of the country in bad light to the embassy so that the bad eggs will be flushed out.
The President said, “For you to be good ambassadors of our dear country, it is to live by the law of the country as much as possible.
“Report the bad eggs here among you quietly to the embassy so that we can get them and repatriate them home as the ambassador has said.”
The Nigerian Ambassador to Côte d’Ivoire, Ibrahim Isah, in his remarks, noted that the largest number of Nigerians in sub Saharan, second only to Sudan are in Côte d’Ivoire.
He put the number at about 1.5 million.
The Ambassador said the greatest challenge faced by the embassy was the issue of child trafficking and prostitution, disclosing that 50 persons have been repatriated since he resumed.
Isah said, “We are facing the challenge of child trafficking and prostitution. Over 50 persons have been repatriated since I came three months ago. We put them across to Lagos through the Young Shall Grow Motors and give them stipends.
“We have succeeded in getting three traffickers jailed here in Côte d’Ivoire but we need National Agency for the Prohibition Trafficking in Persons and the Nigerian Emergency Management Agency to continue doing what they are doing until we stop this illicit trade.”
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora and Foreign Affairs, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, in her remarks said a total of 5000 Nigerians stranded in Libya have been brought back to the country under the Buhari Administration.
She regretted however that some of them have sadly found their way back despite warnings. She expressed hope that with President Buhari’s directive on massive evacuation, all of them will be back to Nigeria. – Punch
– Nov. 29, 2017 @ 12:20 GMT