The scary tales of woe and the agonising experiences of Nigerian students recently evacuated from war-torn Sudan are sad reminders of what their compatriots experienced in Ukraine last year. One year after, Ukraine is still at war with Russia and there is no end in sight yet.
While Ukraine, a European country, is unfortunate to be under constant bombing from Russia, a super-power, Sudan, sadly, has embarked on a self-destructive and senseless war because of the selfish interests of its leaders. Yet the so-called African leaders, who have also failed woefully in their countries, could not offer any help now as they have left the Sudanese to their fate.
Barely a month after the commencement of hostilities in the African country, Khartoum, its capital, has been totally destroyed as the two factions in the crisis shamelessly embarked on a movie-like show as they openly compete in the total annihilation and destruction of their own country.
Sadly many foreigners, including Nigerians, who had been living peacefully in the country, had to flee in the face of the raging crossfire between the warring parties in the battle for the control of the country. Some, who were unfortunate to be caught up in the melee, had sad stories to tell as many foreigners were allegedly killed on the streets of Khartoum by some hoodlums in official uniform.
While the western countries wasted no time in evacuating their nationals from Sudan immediately the war broke out, the Nigerian authorities were foot-dragging until it became almost too late. Instead of the Federal Government and the state governments, who had students on scholarships in Sudan, to act fast and save their citizens, unnecessary protocol and official bureaucracy succeeded in putting the lives of the stranded Nigerians at great risk.
It is so unfortunate that the same experience the Ukraine returnees were subjected to was also replayed here with the returnees from Sudan. What would have been a straight journey down from Sudan to Nigeria sadly turned into another “Isrealites journey” for the troubled Nigerians who were initially taken to Egypt with all the risks, danger and humiliation before being brought back to Nigeria.
Some others had to be ferried from the Port of Sudan to Saudi Arabia before their evacuation by air back to Nigeria. Unfortunately, all the sad experiences and agonising tales are sometimes the price to pay for a clueless leadership which does not place much value on the lives and welfare of its citizens wherever they are in the world.
The need for the Nigerian leadership to do all it can to provide the enabling environment for the citizens to thrive in every area of their lives, therefore, becomes paramount. If education in Nigeria remains top notch, as it used to be in the 1970s and ‘80s, Nigerian students will not have any reason to be trooping outside the country the way they are doing now only to be crying and begging to be evacuated from Ukraine, Sudan and other dangerous zones in the world.
We really commend the efforts of some good Nigerian corporate bodies and organisations who have been consistent in providing succour to ameliorate the plight of the returnees. Air Peace stands out of the pack for its continued support to evacuating Nigerians from South Africa during the xenopbobic attacks two years ago through its recent assistance to the Federal Government in bringing back the Sudan returnees from Egypt to Nigeria.
We also give kudos to Dangote Foundation and MTN Nigeria for the continued support to the returnees over the years as we call on others to emulate the good examples in their CSR policy.
We only hope those in positions of authority will continue to do the needful and, in good time too, to prevent the ugly situations that keep occurring with stranded Nigerians abroad, especially when they find themselves in crises situations as we had in South Africa, Ukraine and now Sudan. The Federal Government owes it a paramount duty to protect the lives of Nigerians wherever they might be in the world as we leave the crooked government officials who always want to profit from the misfortunes of their endangered compatriots to their conscience.