Nigerian students stranded in Saudi Arabia have cried out over an alleged move by the officials of the Nigerian embassy to frustrate their evacuation to Nigeria.
The students alleged that the embassy officials are opposed to the free flight provided for them by the Asian country to bring them back to Nigeria.
Some of the students, who spoke with SaharaReporters, said the Nigerian officials in the country insisted on arranging a flight from Nigeria despite the provision of a free trip by the Saudi Arabian government.
One of them, who introduced herself as Ayo, explained that after their examinations, the Saudi government provided flight to evacuate them to Nigeria, but the embassy did not follow the necessary process to accept the offer.
"The Saudi government stated that all students should travel to their countries through Saudi Airline, and necessary arrangements must be made by contacting the embassy to issue the permit to go and the landing right.
"We made the step and contacted the embassy in May, but they insisted on providing another airline from Nigeria, and that students must pay for the travelling.
"The Saudi Arabia Government made the provision for all students studying here to travel back to their various countries with free tickets. We explained everything to our delegates representing us here at the Nigeria Embassy at Riyadh. Still, they turned our proposal down until we got to know that they've sent a letter to the airline, stating that they shouldn't lift any Nigerian because they're planning on lifting them," the student said.
Another student said they (students) had tried to make the embassy reconsider the free flight from the Saudi Arabian government, but their pleas were ignored.
He added that many students would not be able to afford the tickets if they have to be evacuated by the Nigerian government.
He said, "Most students couldn't afford to pay the money because we are here to learn and our schools have made a provision for that.
"We contacted prominent persons in Nigeria to intervene; they tried their best to inform the minister of interior and the minister of foreign affairs. They took the necessary steps and contacted the embassy in Riyadh to do the work.
"Later, we persuaded them to help us. Last week Sunday, we went back to the airline to fix the date for us. They said a delegate should come or make a call either from the embassy in Riyadh or the consulate in Jeddah. The airline later fixed another date on Sunday which was 1st or 3rd of August.
"The Saudi government later notified us that the flight had been cancelled due to a late response from the embassy."
The students lamented that a new academic calendar would begin, meaning that they won’t have the opportunity to return home for their holiday due to the negligence of the government.
The students appealed to the Nigerian government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to compel the Nigerian ambassador to Saudi Arabia to accept the Saudi government’s offer