The first batch of 187 Nigerians who indicated interest to come back home from South Africa as result of the xenophobic attacks have returned.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports Federal Government of Nigeria in collaboration with a Nigerian carrier, Air Peace, assisted the returnees back home.
Among the returnees are adults, children and infants who landed at the Cargo Wing of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, at 9.37 p.m after departing Thambo International Airport, Johannesburg in Boeing 777 aircraft, with registration number 5N-BWI.
They displayed patriotism and allegiance to Nigeria as they joyfully sang the Nigerian National Anthem.
Recall that in the past few weeks Nigerians have lost their lives and properties to barbaric xenophobic attacks in South Africa. An act which pushed the Buhari led administration to offer to bring back the citizens of Nigeria who are willing to return home.
Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman of Nigeria Diaspora Commission, Air Peace Chairman, Mr Allen Onyema, and the representatives of government which included the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Nigeria Immigration Service and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria received the returnees.
The Chairman of Nigeria Diaspora Commission, told newsmen that the government was ready to assist over 600 Nigerians who had indicated interest to return back from South Africa to settle back in the country through its various social intervention programmes; adding that the Bank of Industry had also been mobilised to assist those willing to acquire vocational skills.
She disclosed that government will support them financially to get back to their respective states while the South African owned communication giant operating in the will assist them with a pre-loaded Sim cards of N6, 000.
The Chairman of Air Peace reiterated their commitment in supporting the government in bringing our brothers back home free of charge thereby sending a message to the world that Nigerians are their brothers’ keepers, and revealed that the airline spent over N300 million to airlift the affected Nigerians.
“We want to send a signal to the world that Nigerians are their brother’s keepers and
“I support the Federal Government and President Muhammadu Buhari and this gesture is an assistance to the government to bring our brothers back home.
“We are offering free trip to Nigerians in South Africa to return home after going through the traumatic experience of the attacks.
“Air Peace has said this is free and we are doing it in solidarity with the Federal Government,” Onyema said.
Some of the returnees who spoke to newsmen expressed their joy and praised Air Peace for the kind gesture, stressing that there was no place like home.