‘More Risky’: The Nigerians Who Don’t Want To Return From Ukraine

Solomon Elusoji  
Updated March 5, 2022


As of Saturday morning, the Federal Government had evacuated nearly a thousand Nigerians fleeing Ukraine.

But not every Nigerian caught in the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine wishes to return home.

Speaking on a‘s Zoom interview on Friday, two Nigerian students said they would prefer to find alternatives in Europe rather than returning to the country.

“I will seek for student permit and continue my life from here,” says Lukman Ibrahim, a student and artist who was able to flee Ukraine into Poland. “Because home is not safe, everybody knows this.”

READ ALSO: Nearly 1.37 Million People Flee Ukraine War

When pressed on what he meant by ‘not safe’, Ibrahim, who studied at the International European University in Kyiv before the invasion,  alluded to the ongoing fuel scarcity ravaging major Nigerian cities.

“You now expect me to come home and face the same thing when I just survived a war? I will never do that,” he said.

For Emeka Nnamdi, who is still stuck in Sumy, Ukraine, he will prefer to come back home, but only for a short while.

“I am currently doing my Masters here,” Nnamdi said. “I finished my six years of Medical School here. And I am doing a specialty course, which will take me three years. But if I’m doing a specialty course in Nigeria, it will take me more than five years, if not seven years. So why should I come home?”

Evacuation flights

More than 700 Nigerians were evacuated from Poland, Hungary and Romania on Friday.

Jets from Nigerian airlines, Max Air and Air Peace, were deployed for the evacuation operation.

The Federal Government on Wednesday said it has approved $8.5m for the evacuation of citizens fleeing Ukraine.

Although some Nigerians are still stuck in Ukraine, many have made it to neigbouring countries where the evacuation flights are taking off from.

According to Foreign Ministry sources, about 5,000 Nigerians are said to be eligible for evacuation.

Many Nigerians from Ukraine returned to the country on March 4, 2022. Photo: Sodiq Adelakun/Channels TV
Many Nigerians from Ukraine returned to the country on March 4, 2022. Photo: Sodiq Adelakun/Channels TV


On arrival, the returnees were given a $100 stipend to allow them travel within Nigeria to meet up with loved ones.

According to a senior official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Gabriel Aduda, talks are ongoing with Polish, Greek, Romanian and Hungarian authorities to allow Nigerian students in their final years of medical school complete their courses in universities in these countries.

Mr Aduda said the Nigerian government was seeing “very positive signs” in these discussions.

‘More risky’

Ibrahim, who said he was not aware of the evacuation flights organised by the Nigerian government, maintained that his focus was on staying in Europe.

“As an artist, I can’t even dress like this in my home country,” he said on the Zoom call, referring to his dreadlocks. “Everybody knows this.

“As war has broken out, we are supposed to run to our country for safety. But I’ll rather stay here.

“We are all here risking our life, but going back to our country is more risky.”