The Nigerian government has announced plans to begin the evacuation of about 4,000 of its citizens outside the country on Wednesday. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said this during the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force on coronavirus pandemic.
“An Emirates flight will convey some of the trapped citizens from Dubai to Lagos on Wednesday, followed by a BA flight on Friday, from London to Lagos and Ethiopian Airline from the United States”, Onyeama said.
However, the minister said the biggest challenge would be the creation of spaces to quarantine returnees, on arrival as the country rounds up the evacuation within two weeks.
“There are various constraints on us, the biggest one is where to quarantine them upon arrival. So we will have to do it in batches.
We have engaged with our Missions in the US and agreed to use the Ethiopian owned airline@flyethiopian airlines, to bring back significant numbers of Nigerians home”, he said via his Twitter account.
The minister has insisted that the Federal Government would not be liable for costs incurred, stating that the prospective evacuees will bear the financial implications.
Onyeama however noted that the Federal Government is working hand in hand with the National Emergency Management Agency(NEMA) to subsidize the financial burden as much as possible.
“There are large numbers of Nigerians in China who need to come back. We know the real financial challenges that a lot of our compatriot brothers and sisters are facing,
so the @NigeriaGov with the kind support of the Chairman of the PTF for Covid-19, Mr. Boss Mustapha is engaging with NEMA to see to what extent the government can also subsidise and make the financial burden that these evacuees have to face as light as possible”, he said.
Minister Onyeama added that the change in date for evacuation of Nigerians from different parts of the world originally scheduled to commence on Monday, 4 May to Wednesday 7 May, was caused by the constraints in resources but assured that Emirates airline would start the evacuation from Dubai on Wednesday.
The Nigerians waiting to be evacuated are mainly in China. Other countries include the United States, the United Kingdom, South Africa, India and many others.