I’ll continue to defend our citizens’ interest worldwide – Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has said his administration would continue to defend the interest of Nigerians “wherever they may be” as the nation began the evacuation of citizens stranded following the Russia-Ukraine war.

The president’s spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, said in a statement on Friday that the president stated this Thursday in Nairobi, Kenya, at a Town Hall Meeting with a group of Nigerians resident in the country.

According to the statement, the president said, “On our part as a government, we shall continue to defend the interests of all Nigerians wherever they may be. We have demonstrated this over time, as we have had cause to evacuate our citizens in harm’s way abroad.

“We did it in Libya, South Africa and we have just commenced doing the same in Ukraine, where thousands of our citizens, especially students, are trapped by the on-going war between Russia and Ukraine.”

President Buhari, who was represented at the event by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffery Onyeama, commended Nigerians in Kenya for the unity among them, and peace with their host communities, urging them to respect the laws and be good ambassadors of Nigeria.

He reiterated that it was the determination of the current administration to forge a partnership with the ‘Ambassadors-at large’ towards building the country together that led to the establishment of the Nigerians in the Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM).

He expressed delight that the Commission had been engaging the Diaspora and had also come up with laudable programmes that would appeal to them.

The president said as part of his Diaspora agenda, “we expect your willingness to ‘give back’ to Nigeria, some of your resources, talents, skills and global exposure in the development of our great country, Nigeria.”

He, therefore, encouraged the ambassadors to key into the programmes of NiDCOM, especially the “Nigerian Diaspora Investment Trust Fund whose mandate is holistic for all Nigerians abroad.”

The chief executive officer of NiDCOM, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, appreciated the ambassadors for honouring the invitation.

She urged them to register with the Commission in order to have an up- to-date database of them for easy interface, adding that working with them “the Nigerian government will build the country of our dreams.”

The president of Nigerians in Diaspora (Kenya), Dr. Nicholas Ozor, on behalf of the Diasporans, expressed his appreciation to the President for always meeting with them when he is in the country as this boosts their morale.

Ozor, however, requested the president to intervene in some of the challenges confronting them, such as the stoppage of visa on arrival for Nigerians; delays in getting student permits; obstacles to ease of doing business, and undue negative profiling of Nigerians.

Present at the occasion, according to the statement, were the Minister of State for the Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, National Security Adviser, Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno (retd.), and the director-general, National Intelligence Agency, Amb. Ahmed Rufai.