The Journalists International Forum For Migration, JIFORM, has called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to go beyond accepting the repatriation of her citizens from Saudi Arabia to institute a thorough rehabilitation and reintegration scheme for the 802 Nigerian deportees as they arrive the nation in batches.
JIFORM which would host the African Migration summit in Accra between February 25-26 in partnership with the NEKOTECH Center of Excellence Ghana, also called for more proactive responses to a series of distress calls by Nigerians in difficult situations abroad, particularly those secretly being tried, standing trial and being jailed in several Arab nations without fair hearing as there are still thousands of Nigerians still stranded at various locations in Saudi Arabia.
“Government should go beyond mere profiling, subjection to Covid-19 protocol and thereafter connect these people with their relatives. Repeatedly we have said the root cause of irregular migration ranging from failing economic response to guarantee jobs and meaningful living standards for the people should be attended to. How seriously have we legally dealt with the human traffickers and institute a workable preventive mechanism through the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) over the years?
Ajibola Abayomi, the President of the over 300 international journalists focusing on migration reportage across the continents in a statement on Sunday although commended the government through the Nigerians In Diaspora Commission, NiDCOM and other foreign missions for fine tuning the return of the migrants, he however observed that the returnees needed both psycho-social, mental and financial supports to adjust to life after varied encampment at various Saudi detention facilities.
“Indeed JIFORM sympathises with the deportees who are being deported over the rise in the cost of jail upkeeps, is this how life must continue for most of the youths that were unknowingly trafficked to foreign lands? There should be sincere and systematic provisions to rehabilitate them otherwise they would in no time add to the existing economic burden in the land. It is not too much for the government to bring out the money for the good of her citizens now irrespective of the condition they have found themselves.”
Ajibola said time has come for the government to stand up to the reality that thousands of Nigerian youths are in the web of slavery in the Middle East especially in Yemen, Omani, Kuwait, Lebanon and others.
“Several Nigerians are roaming the streets in all these places and living under the fear of immigration police. To stem the tide, robust economic policies are needed to lessen the burden at home on the citizens and not the ones currently draining their pockets through unfriendly tariffs.
“Time has come to further speak the truth to those in authority on how to manage returnees. Apart from the intervention of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) through the migrant Assisted Voluntary Return (ASVR) programme in Nigeria, there has been no meaningful rehabilitation system by the government to cater for the needs of the returnees rather they are being made to cope with conditions not better than where they were coming from.
“If Nigeria must win war against human traffickers apart from providing for the needs of the youths and women, there must be commitment to fully fund NAPTIP, expand frontiers across the 774 local governments with prompt monitoring of its activities and a law providing for mass recruitment as well as making it arm-bearing outfit must be passed in no distance time.