Nigeria is taking all necessary steps to ensure the safe return of its citizens currently staying as refugees in neighbouring countries.
Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo disclosed this while declaring open a regional protection dialogue on the Lake Chad basin in Abuja.
He said it was pathetic that the activities of Boko Haram insurgents forced some citizens out to neighbouring countries.
He however said their story would soon change as government remains focused on returning them home, as he expressed Nigeria’s appreciation to her neighbours.
“Within the last seven years or so, the ecological disaster in Lake Chad has itself been overshadowed by a major humanitarian crisis in the region, with hundreds of thousands of refugees and internally displaced persons fleeing the scourge of mindless mass murder, maiming and destruction of Boko Haram . The problem is further compounded by the large influx of Nigerian refugees into neighbouring countries and the attendant protection and human rehabilitation arising there from. I express our profound gratitude to our neighbours for receiving and hosting Nigerian refugees in their respective countries. The open handedness demonstrates clearly that we are indeed one people,” he said.
Professor Osinbajo lamented the receding of the famous Lake Chad, as he underscored its importance to countries surrounding it.
“The Lake Chad basin has always been a place of good hope and expectations. Its water bodies and wet land have always provide drinking water to people and livestock as well as irrigation, food to many and jobs for fishermen in the seven countries surrounding it. The Lake was Africa’s largest reservoir of water in the Sahel region,” The Acting President stated.
He said the conference was crucial to the economic development of countries within the Chad basin and solicited the support of Nigerians and neigbouring countries in addressing the ecological and humanitarian challenges facing the region.
“This conference is crucial because the people of the Lake Chad region face problems of loss of livelihood, malnutrition, out of school children, and protection. We cannot afford to fail. We seek for the support of those who have entrusted power in our hands as well as friendly nations and compatriots in the development communities. If they rally round us, this will only be the beginning of a new dawn. The outcome of this conference will therefore be an important beginning,” he said.
Professor Osinbajo described the Lake Chad as the most important ecological heritage in the world that must be sustained.
The three-day conference was organized by the Ministry of Interior in collaboration with the United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR.