President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday warned that Nigerians travelling out of the country illegally to search for greener pastures are doing so at their own risk.
Buhari gave the warning during a joint press briefing with the visiting German Chancellor, Ms Angela Merkel, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
According to him, his administration does not support anything illegal or any act of indiscipline.
Illegal Nigerian migrants stuck in foreign countries, he said, will continue to be repatriated back home.
He said the Federal Government had so far repatriated more than 3,000 illegal migrants who were stuck in Libya on their way to Europe.
He said: “I’m against those (my) countrymen and women who illegally find their ways to other countries other than Nigeria.
“But I believe you know that the ECOWAS Protocol includes free movement of persons and goods and services.
“But for those going to Europe, we are not, as an administration, in agreement with those Nigerians who try to defy the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean (Sea) because they feel there are greener pastures there, whether they are pre-paid, free or not.
“It will be recalled that we repatriated about 3,000 Nigerians who were stuck in Libya on their ways to Europe.
“You also must have read in the newspapers or seen in the television stations the number of Nigerians lost in the Mediterranean.”
He added: “So, the position of this administration is very clear: we do not support anything illegal, and anybody who feels that his country does not value, does not offer him what he should be offered as a citizen and decided to defy the desert and the Mediterranean is doing so at his own risk.
“But if found stuck in Libya or anywhere between his final destination and Nigeria, we will bring him back home.”
Speaking through an interpreter, Merkel gave details of agricultural cooperation and other assistance coming to Nigeria.
She also said that Germany would provide educational assistance that would increase the number of Nigerian students studying in Germany.
The two countries signed two memoranda of understanding in agriculture and commerce.
The first agreement was signed between the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, NACCIMA and the German-Africa Business Association.
The First Deputy National President of NACCIMA, Hajia Saratu Iya Abubakar, signed on behalf of Nigeria, while Dr. Stefan Liebing of German Africa Business Association signed on behalf of the German Business Delegation.
The second agreement was signed between the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) and the PETKUS Technologie GmbH, a company that specialises in post-harvest agricultural value chain.
While the Managing Director of NIRSAL, Aliyu Abdulhameed, signed on behalf of Nigeria, the representative of PETKUS Technologie GmbH, Peter Huser, signed for the Germans.
Speaking after signing the MOUs, Nigeria’s Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, said the agreements would increase the collaboration between Nigeria and Germany in the two areas.
Enelamah said the agreements would also leverage small and medium enterprises in Nigeria.
He said: “We want our SMEs to learn from the German experience and be as important. The other area of German excellence is the technical area-technical education, technical training and technical development. It is also an area of great interest to Nigeria.
“We are also working with Germany in the automobile sector because that’s also an area where Germany is a leader and Nigeria clearly has a policy to be a leader in the auto sector in West Africa and Africa.”
He said all this would require high levels of engagement, collaboration and communication to be actualised.
Also speaking, Abdulhameed said the MOU signed between NIRSAL and PETKUS was borne out of the realization of the opportunities that exist for investments in the Nigerian agricultural sector under the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
He said: “Under the current administration and the present agricultural promotion policy of this government, there are ample opportunities for investors in terms of technology and capital, to come to Nigeria and to invest in the agricultural sector.
“NIRSAL provides the risking environment and mechanisms to enable investors like PETKUS to come to Nigeria and do their business.”
According to him, the agreement would go a long way in reducing the 51.3 metric tons of aggregate food production, equivalent of about US$9 billion, which the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) report says Nigeria loses annually.
He said PETKUS, which specialises in the post-harvest segment of the agricultural value chain, would bring its expertise to bear on post-harvest productions in Nigeria.
In his remarks, Huser said the interest of his company was to help small farmers boost their yield.
“We are not talking about big investments; we are talking about small holder farmers, where we like to help them to boost their yield, to get better yield. We are talking about plant production. We are talking about fertilization.”
He said each machine supplied by PETKUS Technologie would provide employment and improve income for five persons and their families.
“We are talking today not about one machine; we are talking about one thousand machines and you can imagine the value this can bring into the agricultural sector,” Huser said.
He said the agreement was a step further in the interest of his company in Nigeria.