President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, warned that Nigerians defying the harsh desert conditions and the Mediterranean Sea to illegally migrate to Europe were doing so on their own, as his administration would never condone any form of illegality or indiscipline.
The President, who stated this while fielding questions from newsmen during a joint press briefing between him and visiting German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, assured his guest that the federal government would continue to discourage Nigerians from embarking on illegal migration to Europe, saying those stuck in foreign countries would continue to be repatriated back home.
Speaking against the backdrop of the recent repatriation of Nigerians stuck in Libya on their way to Europe, Buhari wondered why people would defy the harsh desert conditions and the difficult Mediterranean Sea to go abroad to seek greener pastures, saying: “I am against my countrymen and women that illegally find their way to other countries other than Nigeria.
“For those going to Europe, this administration does not support that Nigerians should defy the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean because they feel there are greener pastures there. We do not support anything illegal and undisciplined.
“This administration is very clear that we do not support anything illegal and anybody who feels that his country does not offer him what he should be offered and decides to defy the Mediterranean is doing so at his own risk.”
The President, however, assured that any Nigerian found stuck anywhere, the government would promptly bring them back and facilitate their return to their respective local government areas in the country.
Earlier in a closed-door session, the two leaders signed a Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) on agriculture, commerce and automobiles.
The first agreement was signed by the First Deputy National President of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Hajia Saratu Iya Abubakar, on behalf of Nigeria, and Dr. Stefan Liebing of German-Africa Business Association, on behalf of Germany.
The second agreement was signed by the Managing Director of Nigeria Incentive Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), Aliyu Abdulhameed, and Peter Huser of the PETKUS Technologie GmbH.
Answering questions through an interpreter during the joint press conference, Merkel, giving details of cooperation and other assistance coming to Nigeria, said both countries were in agreement to arrive at what she described as a win-win situation and create legal means of migration.
She stressed the need for Nigeria to improve on the state of its economy, stating that migrants should be made to realise the danger associated with illegal migration to Europe, saying the belief that the streets of Germany are paved with gold is not true, just as she advised immigrants to learn to stay in their own countries.
“In preparing for this visit, we engaged the spirit of win-win situation. We were in agreement to create a win-win situation on both sides by creating legal means of migration as it is in other countries.
“There is the need to improve on situation at home and make young people to know how dangerous it is to leave their countries. Many stories told about Germany are not true,” she said.
Merkel said the agreement with Nigeria on agriculture was done because Germany had not in the past focused so much on agriculture in Nigeria, noting that Germany would engage Nigeria on how both countries can make renewable energy more efficient in the country, as well as cooperate on how agriculture could be developed and projects agreed upon equally implemented.
The German leader disclosed that her Nigerian counterpart told her in the meeting that 70 per cent of the almost 200 million Nigerian population are youths, noting that if jobs were provided for them, it would go a long way in nipping the menace of trafficking in the bud.
Disclosing that there are 1,200 Nigerians currently studying in Germany, Merkel said her country was ready to provide educational assistance that would increase the number.
She described Nigeria’s economy as strategically relevant in Africa, saying partnership in the area of food production, automobile manufacturing and energy remained invaluable in cementing their relationship.
On the menace of illegal migration, where 30,000 migrants are reportedly seeking asylum in Europe, Merkel said her country would continue to address the challenge via negotiations, adding that with the world becoming a global village, both countries would share ideas in the area of education by way of exchange programmes.
She said the crisis surrounding Lake Chad, as well as the menace of terrorism, would form the crux of discussions during the Berlin conference scheduled for next week.
The German Chancellor, on an economic diplomacy visit to Nigeria, arrived Abuja aboard her BundeRepublic Deutschland Boeing 733 at 21.24 local time Thursday night and was received by the duo of Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister, Muhammad Bello, and the Nigerian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Khadija Ibrahim.