By Ndubuisi Michaels with additional report from Abuja
Nigerians that take the risk of going through the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean Sea to access Europe are on their own, President Muhammadu Buhari said on Friday.
Buhari said this during a joint press conference at the end of bilateral talks with the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
“Firstly I’m against those my country men and women that illegally travel to Europe. I believe you know the ECOWAS protocol encourages free movement of persons, goods and services.
“But for those going to Europe we are not, as an administration agreeing with those who continue to use the Sahara dessert and the Mediterranean Sea because they feel there are greener pastures there whether they are prepared for it or not. We do not support anything illegal and indiscipline.
“You must recall that about six weeks ago we repatriated about 3,000 Nigerians that were stuck in Libya on their way to Europe. You must have read in the papers and watched on the television the number of Nigerians lost in the Mediterranean Sea. We have made it very clear that we do not support anything illegal and anybody who feels this country does not offer him what he should be offered as a citizen and decides to use the desert and the Mediterranean Sea is doing it at his own risk. But if he is stucked somewhere in Libya between his final destination and Nigeria, we will rescue him and bring him back home and send him back to his local government.”
The German Chancellor in her remarks earlier, described Nigeria as a very important country in Africa hence the need to maintain a good a good and cordial relationship.
She commended Nigeria’s success in producing food that is needed in the country which necessitated the important cooperation in agriculture as well as manufacturing Volkswagen cars in Nigeria.
Merkel described Nigeria as an important trading partner in Africa and a young country that is very ambitious, disclosing that her discussions with President Buhari also centered on how to address the problems of migration by providing jobs.
The Chancellor, who spoke in German also noted that the security challenges Nigeria is facing and the achievements the Buhari administration has made in tackling Boko Haram.
She said currently, 12,000 Nigerians were studying in Germany through scholarships and her government intends to increase that number.
She also thanked President Buhari who is also the current ECOWAS chair, for the country’s efforts to resolved issues within the region thereby maintaining peace in the region.
On the 2019 elections, Merkel said they both discussion the importance of free and fair elections which she said will
Impact positively on the nation’s youths.