Lagos, a Refugee-friendly State, Says Sanwo-Olu

•W’Bank commends state on successful agric assisted projects implementation

Segun James

Lagos State will remain open and continue to provide non-discriminatory assistance to all displaced persons seeking safety from violent conflicts and disasters.

 The State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu who made the pledge during a commemorative event organised in Lagos, to mark the World Refugees Day, maintained that the state would remain a refugee-friendly city and provide economic opportunities to displaced persons legitimately seeking to rebuild their lives.

There are an estimated 84,000 refugees settled in Nigeria from other African countries. Lagos is hosting 1,656 registered refugees and 611 asylum seekers from 34 countries. Most of these persons have been integrated into communities to start a new life.

Sanwo-Olu said Lagos took the responsibility to offer protection to refugees as a sacred duty of human rights, rather than privilege. He said the state had maintained a non-discriminatory policy to enforce the rights of persons seeking safety, regardless of their gender, age, ethnicity, religion and their origin.

He added: “It gladdens our heart as a government to receive the validation that Lagos is a city with refugees. I make the further pledge that we will continue to make the state a refugee-friendly city and a land of opportunity for refugees legitimately seeking to rebuild their lives here. “As a government leader, my administration will continue to offer protection and provide the ambiance for displaced persons to improve their well-being.

“No matter what the political belief, religion, tribe, or gender of anyone seeking safety in our communities from violent conflicts, we will not do anything that will make them uncomfortable living in the state.

“Once we give the refugees social protection, we believe they can use their talents and energy to flourish, thereby contributing their own quota to the development of their host communities and the state’s economic growth.”

 Sanwo-Olu however spoke to the root cause of the refugees’ proliferation, appealing to political actors to fashion out ways to amicably resolve disagreements that had the potential to result in violent conflicts.

 This, the governor said was necessary to stem the growing number of persons running away from their communities due to violent conflicts.

He said the global refugee figures remained an “embarrassing number” to humanity, calling for restraint among warring global leaders.

Sanwo-Olu hailed the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and IDPs (NCFRMI), the United States Government, and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for responding to the challenges of displaced persons.

 “I’m also using this platform to enjoin Lagosians to exhibit the true spirit of the state, by welcoming all asylum seekers who have a genuine interest to be part of their communities.

“The refugees must not be forced to return to where their lives and well-being would be threatened again,” the governor said.

On her part, Minister for Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Hajia Sadiya Umar Farouq, called for more action to address discrimination against refugees in non-conflict zones, pointing out that the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian War had aggravated the crisis of refugee.

 Represented by Dr. Abubakar Suleiman, the minister said Nigeria would continue to respect the provisions of the 1951 Convention on Refugee, stressing that international best practice would be employed in handling the IDPs across the country.

NCFRMI Federal Commissioner, Hajia Imaan Ibrahim-Sulaiman, said the signing of the Declaration of Lagos as a ‘City with Refugees’ signified “a defining moment” with global significance.

 The signing, she said, underscored the place of refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, and other Persons of Concern (PoCs) in the heart of Lagos.

 “Under the current leadership, Lagos has created inclusiveness and promoted hope for refugees and other PoCs through favourable policies in the areas of education, health and social services.

“With the signing, Lagos is going to join other league of towns and cities in the world that have signed the Declaration,” Ibrahim-Sulaiman said.

 UNHCR Representative to Nigeria, Ms. Chansa Kapaya, said the commemoration was to celebrate the strength and courage of refugees, while also recognising their resilience and taking action to solve their plight.

 She urged global leaders to step up and work together to solve the global refugee challenges.

A Cameroonian refugee, Zemkwe Nekuna, a lawyer, who spoke on behalf of international refugees in Nigeria, delivered the appreciation note of IDPs to the Government for offering them the platform to grow beyond their predicament.

W’Bank Commends Lagos on Successful Agric Assisted Projects’ Implementation

Meanwhile, following the successful implementation of the World Bank Assisted agricultural projects, the Task Team Leader of the multilateral institution’s mission to Lagos, Dr. Adetunji Oredipe, has commended the Lagos Agro-processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) Project for its commitment to farmers in the state.

Oredipe stated this yesterday during the Federal Government/World Bank Eighth Implementation Support Mission visit to the Lagos State held at Agege in Lagos.

 According to Oredipe, the implementation of the project in the state really improved the livelihood of women and youths as well as enhanced outputs in the agricultural value chain. He said the reports of the activities of the Lagos APPEALS Project were commendable, adding that the World Bank would continue to sustain the project with investment in the state to get the desired results in order to do things differently and finish well.

 Also, the State Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms. Abisola Olusanya said the state government was strongly committed to enhancing the agricultural productivity of small and medium-scale farmers as well as improving value addition along the agricultural value chains in line with the core objectives of the Lagos

She said: “The implementation of APPEALS project in Lagos State through capacity building and technology adoption support to our farmers has positively increased productivity of rice paddy in the State from 1.5 MT to 2.5 MT / Ha and 2.0 -3.56 MT/ Ha for Ofada and FARRO 44 respectively, Catfish productivity has increased from 100 Kg/ m3 to 151.3 Kg / m3, and in poultry, Broiler has increased from 1.8 Kg/ bird per cycle to 2.5 Kg/ bird.

 “The processed output and sales of products for the value chains follow the same trend such that the aquaculture farmers supported by APPEALS project have produced 307.948 MT Fresh Tilapia and are expanding day by day. By virtue of our abundant water resources with as much as 20 percent of the State made up of water, we are a natural hub for aquaculture.

 “APPEALS project has continued to promote productivity enhancement technologies and promotion of value addition through demonstration of improved technologies.

“These have directly been delivered on the Project Development Objective. Most of these technologies were confirmed through administrative data, though an output survey is in the process of being rolled out to confirm the figures.”

Also speaking the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture, Mrs. Olatokunbo Emokpae said: “Lagos State’s vision of making Africa’s Model Mega City and Global Economic and Financial Hub is hinged on the six pillars of the State’s THEMES developmental agenda of the present administration of Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

“It is important to mention that agriculture is embedded among the pillars in ensuring that the state attains a 21st-century economy because of its obvious roles in food, industrial and economic sectors.”

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