Ogun, Imo top list of first batch of South African returnees -NiDCOM

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*Dabiri-Erewa

As the second batch of 320 Nigerian returnees from South Africa is expected tomorrow, the chairman and chief executive officer of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa has disclosed that Ogun and Imo states has the highest number of returnees evacuated from South Africa last week.

Speaking at a press conference in Abuja on Monday, she said the profiling of the 187 already in the country according to states revealed that Ogun had the highest number with 30 followed by Imo with 28.

Continuing, she said Abia had 7; Anambra, 13; Edo, 13; Ekiti, 6; Enugu, 7; Imo, 28; Lagos, 7;  Kogi, 1; Benue, 1; Osun, 6; Oyo, 23; Delta, 15; Anambra, 13 and Ebonyi, 2.

She explained that it is the responsibility of state governors to integrate and empower Nigerians who are being evacuated from South Africa.

Dabiri-Erewa revealed that apart from the 187 already evacuated, a second batch of Nigerians who volunteered to return home would arrive in the country Tuesday.

She said the list containing details of the second batch of returnees would be forwarded to the various states to ensure proper reintegration.

She the commission had since opened communication with the affected states, stressing that the commission is expecting representatives of states to be on ground to receive the returnees.

“We have profiled them according to their states and we expect the governors to take responsibility for their citizens that have returned. I am going to stress one thing; those who returned are not criminals, in fact they are very hardworking Nigerians and have lost everything they have ever worked for in South Africa.

“So, their only crime is being black and being Nigerian. We had fathers separated from their children, we have a widow with four children who just had to come back home.”

Dabiri-Erewa further explained that the widow with four children was from Ondo state, while expressing satisfaction that the State government was trying to ensure that those kids were enrolled in school.

She restated the immediate offers of SIM card and air time that would last the returnees for about two months and some money for transportation, stressing that the first batch of 187, are already being profiled to get soft loans from the Bank of Industry (BOI).

“As I speak with you now the bank of industry has their contacts and will be calling them to come for the soft loans. Those are the immediate plans for them. But as they settled in we are going to profile them and do a need assessment because somebody might want to trade and you are saying go and do hairdressing. There is also a number for just the returnees to reach the bank of industry.”

The NiDCOM chairman said a lot of people have also offered counseling and entrepreneurship training which the commission was compiling and the returnees will also be contacted and link up with these offers.

She commended corporate giants like Airtel and MTN for the phones and airtime, for the returnees, while urging other Nigerians and corporate bodies to follow suit.

On the issue of compensation, Dabiri-Erewa said it was a policy issue that would be decided by the minister of foreign affairs.

With ThisDay report

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