Buhari’s foreign trips re-launched Nigeria, says Onyeama

Nigeria, South Africa set up call centre on xenophobia
President Muhammadu Buhari’s foreign trips were to re-launch Nigeria in the mind of countries that hitherto distrusted it.

The trips were meant to rebuild Nigeria’s image and restore its past glory.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) yesterday in Abuja that the trips have started yielding positive results.

The results were in the areas of the economy and national security as well as enhancing Foreign Direct Investment.

Looking at Nigeria from when Buhari took over, he said: “We had existential security challenges with Boko Haram occupying some territories.

“We had rampant corruption and the oil price crashing, so his outreach to the rest of the world was to get the international community to buy into the priorities of the government.

“He identified security as one of it, and on the security you will recall that a number of our traditional allies in the western world stopped cooperating with Nigeria militarily.”

Onyeama said some countries had stopped providing weaponry and pulled out advisers from Nigeria, while troops engaged in mutiny before the Buhari administration.

The president sought to allay the fears of other countries and get them back on board to support government’s security initiatives against Boko Haram.

The minister noted that Nigerian faced real economic challenges with the dramatic crash in oil prices, which needed urgent attention.

He said that the president’s drive in that context was the diversification of the economy and the promotion of foreign direct investment.

He said the president was able to put the issue of anti-corruption at the top of the international agenda.

Also, Onyeama says Nigeria and South Africa have set up a 24-hour call centre to serve as an early warning system to protect Nigerians from xenophobia.

Onyeama said at the NAN forum in Abuja that Federal Government was ready to intervene wherever any Nigerian is threatened or in difficulty.

He said that the Nigerian High Commission in South Africa has been directed to facilitate legal support to help the victims of recent xenophobic attacks in the country to get their compensations.

The minister said that the victims of the attacks had been advised to make inventory of their losses through a mechanism that had been created, known as the early warning unit.

Meanwhile, Nigeria and European Union (EU) are working to have an agreement that will facilitate the repatriation of Nigerians living illegally in EU countries.

Onyeama told NAN that the EU also sought to engage with the government in providing vocational training for those who had been repatriated.

The EU for now, he explained was trying to have a collective agreement with Nigeria covering all the EU countries so that there can just be a one-stop-shop and everybody can repatriate Nigerians.

The minister noted that the issue of migration had become a priority for most EU countries.

Onyeama dismissed claims that some Nigerians were deported from some countries without the knowledge of the Nigerian government.
He explained that opportunities were given for migrants to exhaust all legal rights open to them before repatriation.

Meanwhile, the Federal and Borno State governments have completed arrangements for the basic life provisions made for 78, 000 Nigerian refugees expected to be repatriated from neighbouring Cameroun.

Source: NAN

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