By Michael Olugbode
With the latest arrival of a new batch of 418 Nigerians from Saudi Arabia, the figure of those returning to Nigeria from the Arab country in the last three days has risen to 1,071.
While leading the inter-governmental agencies to receive the returnees, the Director, Consular and Legal Department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bolaji Akinremi, disclosed that 255 and 398 returnees arrived in Nigeria last Monday and Tuesday respectively.
Akinremi said the reintegration exercise was made possible through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, to create a smooth rehabilitation process for the returnees.
He commended all other agencies like NAPTIP, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), NIMC, FCT Pilgrims Board and Public Health for their ‘wonderful’ coordination alongside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
According to him, the rapid testing method for COVID-19 detection was carried out while the returnees were profiled into states and gender.
He said against previous arrangement where each of them would stay in the camp for seven to 14 days, the maximum number of days to stay at the camp is now three days before they would be released to meet their family members.
Akinremi assured the returnees that the accommodation at the camp has the basic amenities which include a 24-hour medical service to look into the welfare of the returnees before they are rejoined with their families.
He said a token amount of N20,000 was given to each of the returnees for their transportation while free meals and toiletries were supplied to all of them.
Representing the Chairman of NIDCOM, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Head of Media and Publicity of the commission, Abdur-Rahman Balogun, welcomed the returnees, and promised that everything would be done to make them comfortable in their country.
Speaking in the same vein, the Director-General of NAPTIP, Mrs. Imaan Sulaiman-Ibrahim, appreciated the efforts of the Saudi Arabia Government to liaise with its counterparts in Nigeria to enable a thorough operation of bringing the Nigerians in Saudi Arabia back home.
She said the agency was equally profiling all the returnees and counselling them as part of the rehabilitation process.