I Call my daughter in Ukraine every hour – Fathers of a Nigerian Medical student

I get in touch with her every hour – Adeleye

Pastor Matthew Adeleye and Mr Christian Ukachukwu, whose daughters are medical students in Ukraine, speak to OLUWAFEMI MORGAN about how their daughters have been coping since the invasion of Ukraine by Russian on Thursday.

What is your name?

My name is Pastor Matthew Adeleye.

What is the name of your daughter studying in Ukraine and what is she studying?

Her name is Olamide Racheal (Adeleye). She went to Ukraine to study medicine and surgery in 2015.

What informed the choice of Ukraine for her medical study?

Ukraine is reputable for medical training in terms of quality, all over the world. Compared with Europe and America, it is relatively cheaper (studying medicine there).

Have you heard from your daughter since the attack on Ukraine by Russia on Thursday?

I was trying to call her just before your call came in. I get in touch with her every hour. You are able to get me so easily now just because the tension in Ukraine has gone down a bit. Yesterday, I lost my composure at a point, especially at a time they had to trek towards Poland border.

She stays in the town called Lviv; Lviv is at the Western part of Ukraine. The most risk-prone area is Eastern Ukraine. Lviv is close to Poland border, and as of now, it is adjudged to be one of the safest places (in Ukraine). Even the American government is contemplating relocating their embassy from Kyiv, to Lviv. Having considered Lviv relatively safe for now, since the war broke out up till now, we have not heard of stories of missiles or bomb attack in Lviv. She told me that not even a single attack has been recorded.

Are you satisfied with the approach of the Nigerian government to the Ukrainian situation, regarding the safety of Nigerians in that country?

About 10 days ago, she told me that they were contacted by the Nigerian government to fill a form. The objective then was to determine Nigerian nationals studying in Ukraine, to identify them, getting to know their location. She told me that she joined others to complete the form.

I appeal to the Nigerian government to use the diplomatic relationship with Ukraine and Russia to appeal to the two countries to at least cease fire, to stop the crisis for now, allowing the government to evacuate Nigerian nationals. As it is now, I doubt if any plane can fly through the Ukrainian territory.

When I read the Speaker of the House of Representatives say that Nigeria should deploy plane to go and evacuate citizens, I laughed. Is it possible for a plane to enter Ukraine now? The government needs to appeal to the two countries, route the appeal through the United Nations for the warring parties to slow down, allowing Nigeria and other countries to evacuate their nationals.

My daughter is in Lviv, if Nigeria sends a plane there, the plane will land in Kyiv, meaning that my daughter will have to go by train to Kyiv to make it, and I think transportation has collapsed all over the country. So, Nigeria should use every avenue, every might at its disposal to get my daughter out of that place until things normalise.

Unfortunately, you know my daughter started the programme seven years ago; my daughter is just four months to round off with her studies in Ukraine.

My daughter, others in Ukraine sleeping in bunker – Ukachukwu

What is your name?

I am Mr Christian Ukachukwu.

What is the name of your daughter studying in Ukraine and what is she studying?

Her name is Chinaza (Ukachukwu). She is studying medicine.

What informed the choice of the country for her training?

Outside this country, Ukraine is the country that offers the cheapest medical training abroad, in terms of school fees and the rest. There is consistency; you finish at the proper time.

Have you heard from your daughter since the crisis started on Thursday?

I was speaking with her before your call came in (on Saturday afternoon). There is a curfew at the moment, 9am to 6pm in the city of Kharkiv. At the moment, there is no movement. All the airports are closed, no flights coming to Ukraine and none going out.

Where did you daughter tell you she was when last you spoke with her?

She told me she was in her hostel. The instruction given to them was that in the night they should go and stay in the bunker. Then in the morning they come out to their hostels. There are usually some flights in the night and the mornings but yesterday (Friday) there was nothing like that; the situation was calm.

She and some Nigerians living in the same building went to buy some groceries on Wednesday at the supermarket.  There are more than 20 to 25 Nigerians in her neighbourhood. But in her hostel, there are about six Nigerians.

There are no bombardments in Kharkiv at the moment, but there was bombardment last night. Most of the bombardments happen at night and in the morning. Yesterday (Friday) night was calm.

Are you worried about your daughter’s safety?

We are trusting God that everything that has a beginning will have an end. Let the international community rise up to the occasion, talk to Mr (Vladimir) Putin (President of Russia), this is not how things are done. People are dying over what they don’t know about. If he has any scores to settle with Ukraine, they should do it diplomatically, not by killing people here and there.

Mr Putin should allow peace to reign; one man cannot be bigger than the rest of the world.

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I also advise that Nigerian ambassadors in Ukrainian neighbouring countries should please contact their home country to allow Nigerians to enter through their borders. Some Nigerians may be at the border right now; the Nigerian ambassadors should intervene so that our people can get to safety.

Did you advice your daughter to consider crossing to Poland too?

She can’t go to the border now because it is not safe. There is now an agreement between Nigerian and the neighbouring countries. Going there is dangerous because the weather is too cold at the moment. Going there would be a great risk.

Some Nigerians that have travelled there have been turned back. There is no permission from the Nigerian government or embassy to allow them entry. There are many countries bordering Ukraine, we have Poland, Romania and others. People that are living in Kyiv have Poland as the closest border to them. For my daughter, they said that the closest city is Slovakia. But if they travel to Slovakia, they will have the problem of getting entry permit. It is possible to get to Slovakia border and not gain entry into the country. There are chances that they might get into wrong hands.

The Federal Government should make arrangements to have Nigerians stay at a particular spot so that when they want to evacuate them, if they finally permit flight to come in, it would be easier for them to identify them and evacuate them accordingly. There are some people that might feel reluctant; you cannot predict what happens in the next moment.

Let the diplomatic arrangements between Nigeria and Russia be a serious conversation, so that Russia can allow for ceasefire. So that when Nigerian citizens and citizens of other countries want to leave, they can be able to leave in a matter of time.

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