By Tahir Ibrahim Tahir Talban Bauchi.
Since ‘Sudan: Home sweet home’, so much has come to the fore over the plight of Nigerians, trapped in war torn Sudan, and the very valiant efforts of Nigerian government officials and agencies, working their tails off and putting their wits to work, to safely bring back students especially; back home to Nigeria. Customarily, Nigerians condemned the government over the efforts it was putting into the rescue of the students from the war zone. One accusation over the other were churned out on a daily, belittling The Foreign Affairs Ministry, NIDCOM, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, NEMA and the Presidency. A proverb in Hausa says, ‘The finest boxer is always at ring side’. Experts and journalists who were ‘proficient’ in rescuing refugees from war zones, were from the comfort of their homes here in Nigeria, picking loopholes and dishing out streams of invectives on the efforts the Nigerian government was putting together, to get the students back home as safely as possible.
Reality checks started filtering in from different countries as to the efforts they were making and the conditions they were facing in their own rescue efforts. Canada made it clear to its citizens in Sudan that they were under no legal obligation to rescue them from Sudan. Other western countries signalled that they were billing the evacuees for the cost of their rescue. Unconfirmed sources say an Argentinian rescue airplane was hit by the Rapid Support Forces, RSF, the major rebel group in Sudan. In its entirety, the rescue efforts by different nations to get their citizens out of Sudan has been very precarious, sketchy and scanty. Bus business is big business in Sudan and the war situation had turned the business into an extortionist venture, with bus drivers charging astronomical prices just to transport passengers to the border. A private organisation ferrying just 50 of its staff were charged thousands of dollars just to take them to the border. Invariably, the criticisms coming from ‘arm-chair’ experts in Nigeria just reeked of the fact that they failed to comprehend that Sudan is at war!
Notwithstanding, the Federal Government did not say it was under no legal obligation to rescue its citizens, and neither did it say it was going to bill the evacuees for the costs of the rescue mission. It has been on its toes from the break out of the war, to see that its citizens, especially stranded students, who had suddenly become refugees in Sudan, were safely flown back home. In the build up of the rescue efforts, it was discovered that there were so many South Easterners in Sudan as well, as against the notion that only Northern Nigerians were trapped in Sudan. This rubbishes claims by some that the students were neglected because they were largely of Northern extraction.
Despite all the efforts, resources and manpower on ground, to the bewilderment of us all, a sense of entitlement was taking center stage with the students. The sense of entitlement of the evacuees had gone as far as criticising the Nigerian government over the toilet facility provided them in a temporary accommodation they were placed in, before they are brought back home. You begin to not only understand the Nigerian mentality, but accept our unfortunate sense of entitlement and ingratitude to our motherland. You are complaining over toilets in war? I guess the lamentations were from a safe distance from the sounds and damages of military mortar, thanks to the Nigerian government. If they were still stuck in Khartoum, peeing on themselves would be a very comfortable idea. No one actually sent them to Sudan and if anyone was rescuing them to Nigeria, he/ she was doing them the grandest of favors; rescuing their lives from untimely death.
This is not the first time the PMB administration has made successful rescue efforts over its citizens in war torn countries or countries that Nigerians had become endangered in. Citizens have been rescued from South Africa, Libya more than once, and Ukraine to mention a few. The Sudan war has seen to the deployment of AirPeace, Azman Air, and The Nigerian Airforce’s C-130 Hercules by The Nigerian government. Already, hundreds of the evacuees have landed at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja. The Foreign Affairs Ministry through the able services and responsiveness of NIDCOM, have made this possible. The Federal Government has not relented in efforts to rescue its citizens from across the world, not only Sudan.
On behalf of the students, their parents and other well meaning Nigerians, I say a big thank you to President Baba Buhari. Thank you for caring. Thank you for having NIDCOM, which has marvelously shown great enthusiasm, patriotism and commitment to the plight of Nigerians in Diaspora. The way the agency operates, I am sure if they were constitutionally empowered to cater for the plight of Nigerians in Nigeria, they would spiritedly do so. They have been diligent and they have worked hard without religious or ethnic discolorations to their operations. Mrs. Abike Dabiri is truly a rare patriot. There are so many other things that have stood out from this administration but the most immediate one that has made us feel proudly Nigerian, is our motherland’s efforts in rescuing our younger ones from Sudan. Videos of the students in the C-130 Hercules on their way home were quite comforting. Thank you Baba Buhari. ‘Mungode’. Don’t mind our sense of entitlement and our penchance for ingratitude. Perhaps our country is so great that we do not appreciate a whole lot of things.
Tahir is Talban Bauchi.