‘We rather die here’, some Nigerians in Ukraine reacts to evacuation offer

Some Nigerians, who are currently trapped in Ukraine as a result of the crisis with Russia, have ruled out the option of returning to the country.

Speaking with Daily Trust via telephone, they expressed cynicism about the federal government’s promise to evacuate willing Nigerians from the war-torn country following Russia’s invasion.

The House of Representatives in a resolution on Thursday called for the immediate evacuation of Nigerians, while the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema, said the process will commence once airports in the country were open.

But Edidiong Cyprian Ukpakha, a Nigerian who has lived in Ukraine’s Kiev for many years, dismissed the calls as not only being unrealistic considering the closure of the air space but due to past unfulfilled promises of evacuation.

“I was here in 2013 during a similar crisis when they promised to evacuate Nigerians and they never did,” he said.

“So, this is the attitude of every Nigerian in Ukraine that they will promise and not fulfill.

Cyprian described the circular from the Nigerian embassy calling on Nigerians to be responsible for their protection and safety as appalling when “other countries are making provisions on how to evacuate the citizens, providing phone lines to call, shelter and aids to their people and the Nigerian government is telling us ‘You are on your own’.”

“Let’s tell ourselves the truth, there is no airspace to fly in, America evacuated her citizens a long time ago, and other countries.

“Now Russian troops are all over Ukraine already. We rely on the prayers of Nigerian pastors and bishops to save us from this.
“The Nigerian embassy here are not helping matters and they don’t want to hear the truth.”

Treasure Chinenye Bellgam, a medical student in Kiev, said the government’s gesture is good but, “I am a believer in Christ Jesus and I have to ask God for direction whether to return to Nigeria or not.”

“Most Nigerians who are here on hustle are not willing to leave, they prefer to die here.

“It’s like after God has lifted you one step higher you want to go two steps backward, it’s like being demoted.

“But you need a lot of humility to go back to Nigeria because some people sold lands, cars, and the rest to come here and they have amazing stories.”

Similarly, Julius, a Nigerian living in Kiev, said the announcement to evacuate Nigerians is a good idea but will not be heeded by Nigerians in that country.

“Considering the economy in Nigeria, I think a lot of people would look for the safest place here than returning to Nigeria,” he said.

“They should do it (supply of aircraft) so that it becomes a choice for those who would want to stay back or those who want to return.

He said the situation escalated in the capital city on Thursday with crazy queues at malls as a lot of people move to stock up on provisions.

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