The President, African Refugees Foundation (AREF), Chief Mrs Opral Benson, has tasked the federal government and Nigerians at large on promoting peace and security.
Benson, who is also known as the Iya Oge of Lagos, expressed concern on the spate of insecurity across the country on the occasion to mark the 2021 World Refugee Day under the auspicesoftheUnitedNationsHighCommission for Refugees in Lagos recently.
In her opening remarks, she observed that the issue of internally displaced persons (IDPs) has taken centre-stage in national discourse with the widespread insecurity nationwide.
“Our image as a nation is being demeaned at an alarming rate. If we stay aloof, it is at our peril. We can no longer afford to sleep with our two eyes closed,’’ she said.
Chief Benson added that the foundation is working assiduously to complement the effort of the government in tackling the crisis of irregular migration and refugees.
“Today is the day for all of us to appreciate African refugees and know the contribution that this organisation has made through the years and direction that we must go to follow the refugees in Nigeria wherever they are and wherever they come from.
“This is a matter of making sure that we do the best that we can to see that people who are not able to be on their own who need our assistance; that we go out there and render such assistance.
“The situation is more demanding now than
it was when AREF was established. It is a very good initiative to be able to help individuals to move forward,’’ she said while fielding questions from the journalists at the event held at the newly refurbished AREF Headquarters in Surulere,
Lagos. AREF had as its founding President, Late Ambassador Segun Olusola, a renowned television producer, broadcaster and diplomat who is famed for being the Executive Producer of ‘The Village Headmaster.’
The foundation was established in service to humanity especially in the areas of vocational trainings, peace advocacy, public deliberations with CSOs amongst others.
To continue its tradition, Olujimi Olusola, the Chief Executive Officer for AREF reiterated the objectives of AREF and why Nigeria needs the foundation more than ever before.
“We are going through a very terrible period with crises of unimaginable proportion. Now we know that this is the time for us to stand firm and collectively build this country.
“And that is why we need initiatives whereby we get entrepreneurs to partner with us to train youths on social skills development.
“We want to get as many as possible who are inclined to train this timid young group of Nigerians who don’t have anything to do. So, we keep them busy. “What we are doing is also what we ask other people to replicate. When AREF started, we didn’t do rescue, rehabilitation and resettlement anymore. A lot of other people have done that including churches.
“We are focused now on training young people so they can they can take their skills anywhere. We are all refugees in our country now. If we don’t take appropriate action, we will not be a country anymore. We have a lot of graduates but they are not ‘skills’ graduates,’’ he said.
The new Board of Trustees for the foundation include Ademola Oyinlola, Josephine Smith, Adebisi Kuforiji, Olugbenga Feyisitan, Margeret Ukegbu. The event was brought to a close with a vote of thanks delivered by Corporate Communications Consultant for AREF, Mr Wole Adeniran.