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We would rather die in Ukraine than return to Nigeria – some Nigerians

By Osa Mbonu-Amadi

Many Nigerians fleeing the war in Ukraine have rejected the Federal Government’s offer to fly them back home, choosing rather to die in Ukraine than return to Nigeria.

Speaking with TheNiche in an exclusive chat on phone, Thursday, one of those Nigerians, 32-year-old Nnamdi Okafor from Anambra State, asked: “What am I coming back to Nigeria to do? Has anything changed in our country?”

Okafor who described himself as an economic migrant to Ukraine said at worst, he would leave Ukraine for any other country, but definitely not Nigeria.

Recounting his suffering in Nigeria, Okafor who studied engineering in a Nigerian polytechnic said: “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 die here as a refugee than return to Nigeria.”

Further explaining why he rejected Nigerian government’s offer of free evacuation back home, Nnamdi said life in Nigeria was pure hell not worth experiencing twice in one lifetime.

“My brother, the question you should have asked is why I left Nigeria in the first place,” he said. “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 a 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.

About 415 Nigerians fleeing the war in Ukraine arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja yesterday aboard a Max Air flight from Romania’s capital, Bucharest, one of the hubs from where African governments are picking up their stranded citizens.

 

 

 

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