Ogun State has emerged the state with the highest number of the 187 returnees from South Africa in the wake of recent xenophobic violence in the country, the Federal Government has disclosed.
Chairman/CEO of the Nigerian Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, who made the disclosure while giving updates on the returnees at a press conference in Abuja, noted that Ogun State with 30 returnees has the highest number, followed by Imo with 28, while Oyo came third with 23 returnees.
Other states with returnees are – Abia – 7, Anambra 13, Delta 15, Ebonyi 2, Edo 13, Ekiti 6 and Enugu 7, Kwara 3, Lagos 7, Osun 6, Ondo 6, Benue 1 and Kogi 1.
Dabiri-Erewa called on the 16 state governors whose citizens were among the returnees give them support.
She stressed that the returnees were not criminals as alleged by the South Africans but hardworking Nigerians who lost all they had including businesses just for being blacks and being Nigerians.
“We have profiled them according to their states and we expect the governors to take responsibility for their citizens that have returned,” she said.
“I am going to stressed 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 father’s separated from their children, we have a widow with four children who just had to come back home. They are already offers for scholarships for her children.”
Dabiri-Erewa said her commission is already communicating with every state listed and the information have been sent to them but they will take the final decision, adding that the widow with four children is from Ondo State and government of the state is already trying to ensure the children are back in school.
According to her, the affected states are expected to have their representatives on ground to receive their indigenes, while also noting that the returnees 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.”
She said a lot of people have also offered counseling, entrepreneurship training which the commission was compiling and the returnees will also be contacted and link up with these offers.
She commended President Muhammadu Buhari for giving the instructions that Nigerians should be evacuated from South Africa, the minister of foreign affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama for showing leadership and the chairman of Air Peace, Allen Onyema for immediately offering to evacuate the volunteer returnees, the Nigerian Consul General in South Africa who opened his doors for the returnees to sleep and later got them a hotel and treated them good, Airtel for the phones and airtime, MTN for supporting the returnees with airtime, data among others.
Dabiri-Erewa said another set of 319 are expected back Tuesday evening and will be warmly welcome as directed by President Buhari.
She said the list containing details of the returnees will be forwarded to the various states to ensure proper reintegration.
“This is the time to show ourselves love and unity, it doesn’t matter what part of Nigeria you come from, we are one united Nigeria and the love and unity, the sense of togetherness was very prominent in this case, where we were being externally attacked.
“Any Nigerian any where in the world be hardworking, be law abiding and whether you are abroad or home be rest assured that government protection and welfare is guaranteed anywhere in the world.”
On the issue of compensation, she said it was a policy issue that will be decided by the minister of foreign affairs.