Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi has received some indigenes of the state who fled South Africa following the spate of xenophobic attacks in the region.
The Governor welcomed the returnees back home as they were presented by the Senior Special Assistant on Diaspora, Mr. Femi Odere who conveyed them from Lagos to Ekiti State.
While addressing the returnees, the Governor on behalf of the Ekiti State Government, expressed the deepest empathy with them.
“On behalf of myself and the entire state, I express my empathy with you over what you have all been through in the unfortunate situation that occoured in South Africa. Many of us, one way or the other, sometimes find ourselves in a situation where we go outside the shores in search of the golden fields like our parents used to say in those days. The least we could expect from a country that we have sacrificed so much for, that we have expended so much energy for them to arrive at the democratic point they are now in, is that they will show understanding and solidarity to our citizens who find themselves on the other side of the Nile.
“For us, it is also a lesson to as a government to provide opportunities for our people so that we all can make the best of what we have in our country. Nigeria is an immensely resourceful country with resourceful people. Truly we have invested in our people but we must continue to invest in the people so that they don’t run away to other countries where they are being treated as minnows.
“However, I am glad that you all made it back in one piece, knowing how difficult it might be to settle down in the scheme of things in the state and in the country at large. We also are interested in sharing your wealth of experience and expertise and I believe this is achievable once you find your footstool in the state,” he said.
The Governor, however, assured the returnees of the government’s support on relevant grounds.
“The government will do everything possible to assist you all to enable you to settle down and begin your plans for a new beginning. We are presently in talks with the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission to know what other plans are available to assist all returnees so you all can benefit from them,” he said.
Speaking on how the returnees were united with their state of origin, the SSA Diaspora explained that Ekiti State Government collaborated with the Office of the Nigerians Diaspora Commission to extract indigenes of the state for proper consultations, rehabilitation, and reorientation.
“When the xenophobic attacks in South Africa started to unfold, naturally, any responsible government must show concern about the safety of their citizens. So immediately the insurgency broke out, we started to work with relevant bodies to see how we can ensure the safety of our people in that country and bring them back home.
“I, therefore, liaised with the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission under the chairmanship of Abike Dabiri to know the number of Ekiti indigenes either involved in the incident or are being rescued as planned. I eventually got a list of all our people on board the flight to Nigeria, hence we ensured their return home (Ekiti).
Some of the returnees narrated their experiences in South Africa while expressing gratitude to Governor Fayemi and Ekiti State Government on the good gesture.
A native of Irepodun/Ifelodun Local Government (Iyin-Ekiti), Mrs. Lawal Aghulor Halimat, a mother of three children, married to Mr. Aghulor from Delta State, said that she would like to establish her trade here in Ekiti State, recounting that she has lost her five years of labour in her erstwhile resident country.
“I hope to establish my trade here in the state to support my husband (Mr. Aghulor Sunday) in taking care of the family and I hope to register my kids in school by January 2020. I expect to see myself prosper here in Ekiti State because I worked hard in South Africa for five years but I came back home with nothing. I believe my coming to Ekiti will be a blessing to me and my family,” she said.
Mr. Ajayi Oluwaseyi, an indigene of Moba LGA, appreciated the move by the state government. “I was very surprised when I received a call that we are to meet with the Governor and I really appreciate his effort in putting smiles on our faces and showing concern over his subjects. I also hope to start life afresh here in the state to rediscover myself and also become a productive indigene for the benefit of the state. The experience over there in South Africa wasn’t pleasant but I’m really happy to be home,” he said.
Adegboyega Odunayo who hails from Efon-Alaye also explained that “My family was really happy to see me and I am also happy to be home. I left Nigeria in June 2018 which is over a year ago but I thank God he kept me safe and now I am back home. I also hope to be of service to my homeland (Ekiti) while I seek the support of the government to establish myself here,” he said.
Other returnees include; Oluwakemi Adeola Joyce from Odo Oro LGA (Ikole-Ekiti), Funmilayo Onabanjo from Ekiti West LGA (Ilawe-Ekiti), Ogunniyi Olorunyomi from Ise/Orun LGA (Ise-Ekiti) and Agholur Sunday Chukuemeka (Delta State) married to Mrs. Alimat Aghulor from Iyin-Ekiti.
Ekiti State Government will now look to engage these returnees in active reorientation and rehabilitation as a measure to support their reestablishment in the state.