The Oyo State government has received 32 indigenes who were part of the nationals who recently returned to the country following series of Xenophobic attacks on foreigners in South Africa.
The returnees, made up of 30 adults and 2 minors, were each given N30,000 monetary gift by the State government with a promise of conducting a profiling on them to ascertain their areas of need.
The returnees who were led by the Director of Media, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission NIDCOM, Mr Abdulrahman Balogun, were received by the State Deputy Governor, Mr Rauf Olaniyan, at the Government Secretariat, Agodi, Ibadan.
Mr Olaniyan reiterated that the State was committed to ensuring that the returnees found their footing on time by carrying out proper and comprehensive profiling to confirm their particular areas of need and ensure how to attend to them.
Announcing the monetary gift of N30,000 to each of the returnees, the Deputy Governor advised them to be creative by identifying and tapping into the various investments and job opportunities in the State.
He pointed out the various funding opportunities by the Bank of Industry, BOI, urging them to come up with business proposals to further boost their areas of specialization.
In their separate remarks, some of the returnees including, Olakojo Sotunde, Okeleye Oluwaseun and Lawal Bolatito said they are looking up to the government for startup capital and jobs, while narrating the ordeals that led them to decide to return to the country unprepared.
Olakojo said, “I would like the government to assist us in any way they can. We need jobs. I am a graduate of History and International Relations from LASU. Back in South Africa, I had a registered business and was doing well until all of a sudden Xenophobia started.
“I have two cars at the car lot that I wanted to sell because I had the intention to come back home no matter what. I came home two times last year but when I came, there was really nothing, so I had to go back.”
Olajoko said he was yet to decide on whether to stay back in South Africa or coming back to Nigeria before Xenophobia started and things changed, Olajoko appealed to the government to assist them in any way possible.
Similarly, Okeleye said, “It was ups and downs for me in South Africa. I studied Agriculture and sought a country that practices mechanized farming, hence the reason I went to South Africa. We need help. I now have to start again from scratch. The Federal government should interview us per person and know what we want.”
“In South Africa, I see people attacked. Most of their drivers have guns. They see Nigerians as intelligent, smart and they envy us; they feel we bully then. Nigerians are everywhere in South Africa, especially in the medical sector. They suffer an inferiority complex,”
The Director of Media, NIDCOM, Mr Abdulrahman Balogun, cautioned Nigerians keen on leaving the country that the land abroad may not be greener as envisaged.
More Nigerians set to Return
He explained that President Muhammadu Buhari was scheduled to meet with South African authorities on the issue of Xenophobia, that at least another 400 Nigerians in South Africa had expressed interest in returning.
“As of last night, over 400 Nigerians have indicated their interest to return home. The President is concerned on the issue and would embark on eye to eye diplomacy by leading a delegation with seven governors, five ministers and special advisers to meet with his South Africa counterpart. We hope things will be normal with the meeting,” Balogun said.
He stated that if South Africa was ready to make some concession after the discussion, the Nigerians who had expressed interest in returning to the country may decide to stay back.
According to Balogun, “The Commission usually tells those who travel out to be good representatives of the country. As we are having this batch, we have similar issues in Asia, Saudi Arabia in which we have a sizeable number of people from this State.”
He affirmed that the Commission frequently counsels young people to stay back and nurture their nation, where better opportunities abound, adding that with little assistance, they can do well rather than go to countries where they will be killed, attacked and where they cannot move or do business freely.
“We have partnered with some other agencies to assist them, re-orientate, re-integrate them, and do some form of empowerment to fully integrate them into the system. And we have profiled them according to their states and have been reaching out to states. Of 17 states, Oyo State is first to do formal re-integration for its citizens,” Balogun added.