Many Nigerians in war-torn Ukraine refused to return home despite the efforts of the federal government to airlift its citizens out of the troubled European country reports TheNiche.
Last week, speculations of Russia invading the country came to reality with attacks from land, air and sea all aimed at preventing Ukraine from joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Nigerians in the country took refuge in nearby countries as Russian forces advance towards the capital Kyiv. Yesterday, stranded citizens, mostly students, who took refuge at nearby Romania and Poland were airlifted back into the country and were handed $100 (N48,000) each to ameliorate their sufferings.
The third batch from Hungary is still being awaited, according to Nigerians In Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM). The evacuation mission began on Thursday after President Muhammadu Buhari approved immediate disbursement of $8.5million for the exercise expected to bring back about five thousand Nigerians.
Speaking to the Lagos-based news medium, Nnamdi Okafor, one of the Nigerians who have refused to return home, said he rather remain a refugee over there than return to the country he claimed was hopeless.
“What am I coming back to Nigeria to do?” the 32-year-old Anambrarian queried. “Has anything changed in our country?
Mr Okafor, who described himself as an economic migrant and currently in border towns close to Kyiv, said if the war in Ukraine which he branded as senseless deteriorates he will consider migrating to another country than return home.
He also described the standard of living in Nigeria as pure hell when asked why he won’t take advantage of the free evacuation and return home.
“For now, I am still in Ukraine. I used to live in the capital city, Kyiv, but I have moved to one of the border towns which is relatively safe presently.
“But if the war reaches there, I will escape to another country by the grace of God. But if death becomes my destiny, so be it. I would rather remain here a refugee than return to Nigeria.
“My brother, the question you should have asked is why I left Nigeria in the first place. I came to Ukraine two years ago. Before I did, I had stayed in Nigeria for five years after my Youth Service without a job. My country psychologically abused me. I was frustrated and miserable. I almost lost hope in life. I was depressed.
“But it took me only two months to secure a good job when I came to Ukraine in early 2020. If not for this senseless war, life was beginning to have meaning for me once again.
“So, if I hop into the plane because I have seen a free flight, what happens after I come down in Abuja or Lagos or wherever? Has anything changed in Nigeria? Will I now get the job, lack of which forced me out?
“I am not coming back. This war will end one day. But if it doesn’t, we will decide what next to do. But coming back to Nigeria is out of it for now. And mind you, I am not the only one staying put. The students who were sent here by their rich parents to study may go home, but I doubt if any economic migrant like me will dare do that,” he concluded.