COVID 19: Stranded Nigerians Abroad Cry Out To Buhari As foreign Nationals Return To Their Country
By Elizabeth Chukwuma
The Wuhan town in Hebei Province of the Asian country of China emerged Coronavirus disease on December 31, 2019, which took the world unawares, appear to have taken a new dimension.
Apart from giving Scientists, Medical Researchers and big –time Pharmaceutical Companies in the United States and other technological advanced countries to develop the vaccine to cure the deadly disease, described as “very dangerous by President Muhammadu Buhari”, the respective countries of the world are now faced with the problem of resettling their Citizens who are craving to return to their home country in order to escape the humiliation and Isolation faced in their respective countries abroad .
The situation, according to Diplomatic sources is so bad, that many foreigners are stranded abroad because of the no flight policy adopted by countries to curb further spread of the disease. Giving the social distancing instruction being advocated by the World Health Organisation, WHO, to contain the spread of the dreaded disease, this appear to have kept many foreigners, particular, Nigerians living in the US, Italy, Spain, China, South Korea, France, Germany and the African country of South Africa stranded as there no works to do to sustain their continued living abroad.
The situation of Nigerians living in some of these Coroavirus infested countries may have become worse that they have cried out to the Katsina state born Nigerian President to provide the aircraft to evacuate them back to the country. Many of them living in the US state of Texas, particular, which is most hit by the disease are no longer finding it funny staying in the country.
Indeed, there are several other Nigerians living in New York and Wshington DC, two other major states in the country and other parts of the world which had been hit by the deadly disease that had claimed thousands of lives and resulted in the forceful shut down of factories and government establishments who are begging to return to Nigeria.
This may have forced Geofrey Onyeama, minister of Foreign Affairs and Abike Dabiri- Erewa, an axe broadcaster and Chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, NIDCOM, at the instance of the Katsina state born Nigerian Presient, to make proper arrangement to evacuate the stranded Nigerians in the Coranavirus infested countries back to the country without further delay . The latest report of the WHO, shows that the Contagious disease had already spread to 203 countries including Nigeria .
Take for instance, the Nigerian Center For Disease Control, NCDC, report on Friday, April 3, 2020, revealed that 210 persons had contacted the disease in the country and which had been reported to world health body. The plight of the stranded Nigerians in the Diaspora , according to informed sources was really giving Onteama, the minister of Foreign Affairs, and Erewa, the NIDCOM, Chairman, a cause for concern.
Unlike in the past where the government had provided aircrafts to evacuate returnees from South Africa as a result of the Xenophobia attacks, this time around, the situation appear to be different . The government may not have been willing to undertake such a heavy financial responsibility because of other Competing demands in the country.
Onyeama, the minister of Foreign Affairs may have spoken the mind of the President when he told those that cares to listen that the financial implications would be borne by the respective evacuees. The case of the stranded Nigerians may have been made worse as the minister had said the returnees would be compulsorily quarantined for two weeks to avoid further spread of the deadly disease in the country. This is bad news for the stranded Nigerians abroad as a result of the global Coronavirus disease who were optimistic that the government would assist them to defray the cost of their air ticket back to the country.
As a prelude to making the evacuation a hitch-free exercise, Erewa, the Chairman, NIDCOM, was said to have instructed the stranded Nigerians abroad who are willing to return home to key into the Mission’s window by providing all the necessary information in their respective countries that they could be reached with ease.
Although the country’s Embassies in several countries across the world are currently on lock down in Compliance with the Presidential directive which had ordered Cessation of movement in Lagos, the nation’s Commercial nerve center, Ogun state and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, the Erewa led NIDCOM had directed those interested to go online to fill the Form on the Commission’s website.
While Nigerians in Diaspora are desperate to return home, foreigners living in the country are also not finding it funny any longer staying in the country with the increasing number of the Coronavirus cases being announced daily by Chikwe Ihekweazu led NCDC daily. This is evident going by the large number of foreign nationals leaving the country on a daily basis to their respective countries in the wake of the COVID 19 pandemic.
But Onyeama, the minister of Foreign Affairs ,had said that the exit of the Foreign nationals has nothing to do with the country’s healthcare system. According to him, the foreigners are leaving whether ”there is something they know or they don’t know” stressing ,I think it is a lot more to it than that”. The minister believes that the foreigners are leaving the country to their home country where they claimed to be familiar with the healthcare systems so that in the event of any contact with a Coronavirus victims to be confined, if diagnosed confirmed to be positive to be in a more familiar surroundings.
The minister also believes that the foreign nationals may have opted to leave the country in order to have access to good medical Practitioners and facilities that they are used to in their respective countries said their nothing to worry about it.
. He may have gladdened the heart of Nigerian Travellers who were worried about the negative impact of the mass exit of these foreign nationals from the country on their Embassies and Foreign missions as they feared that it might be shut down and thus, affect those who may have applied for business, Medical or student VISAs including those who had returned to the countries to see their family members who may not be able to obtain VISA to go back to their respective countries.
He was said to have told Nigerians who have one thing or the other to do abroad that there is no cause to alarm as the “ Ambassadors, Heads of missions and other Staff in Nigeria have no plans of leaving the country”.
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