By Abdullahi M. Gulloma
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday night in Abidjan declared that all Nigerians stranded in Libya and other parts of the world would be brought home and rehabilitated.
In an interactive session with members of the Nigerian Community in Cote D’ Ivoire on the margins of the 5th AU-EU Summit, the President also promised to reduce the number of Nigerians heading for Europe illegally through the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea by providing basic social amenities such as education, healthcare and food security at home.
He said all necessary steps would be taken to stem the tide of illegal migration by Nigerians.
The President said it’s very difficult to know the origin of the people who died while attempting the perilous journey across the Mediterranean because of lack of documentation.
“When it was announced that 26 Nigerians died recently in the Mediterranean, before they proved that they were all Nigerians they buried them. But the evidence I have from the Senior Special Assistant on Diaspora and Foreign Affairs, (Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa) is that only three of them were identified as Nigerians. But I’ll not be surprised if the majority of them were Nigerians.
“For people to cross the Sahara desert and Mediterranean through shanty boats… we will try and keep them at home. But anybody who died in the desert and Mediterranean without documents; to prove that he is a Nigerian, there is absolutely nothing we can do,” he said.
Reacting to a recent footage on the sale of Africans in Libya, the President said it was appalling that “some Nigerians (in the footage) where being sold like goats for few dollars in Libya.’’
“After 43 years of Gadhafi, why are they recruiting so many people from the Sahel, including Nigerians? All they learned was how to shoot and kill. They didn’t learn to be electricians, plumbers or any other trade.”
On domestic issues, the President told Nigerians in the Diaspora that there was “good news from home” in the area of security, economy and anti-corruption.
“We are not doing too badly in trying to secure the country, improve the economy and deal with corruption. We are doing our best at all levels including security. It is absolute madness for people to blow others up in markets, churches, and mosques. No religion advocates violence. Justice is the basic thing all religions demand and you can’t go wrong if you do it.”
On food security, the President said his vision of repositioning Nigeria as a food-secure nation “is on course as the country is on the verge of attaining food security.”
According to the President, interventions through the Anchors Borrows Programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative, among others, had been very successful in the agricultural reform initiative.
“People have gone back to the farm. We got the CBN, agriculture minister and money was provided at very low interest to farmers and the farmers responded and it was very positive. We are lucky that we are in a position to feed ourselves. So we are going to have food security in Nigeria earlier than anybody ever thought.”
The President advised Nigerians in Cote D’ Ivoire to be good ambassadors in their host country, warning that the Nigeria Embassy would not hesitate to repatriate those “who tarnish the image of the country abroad.”