- The federal government says it does not have the money to fund the evacuation of Nigerians stranded abroad
- This was disclosed by the minister of foreign affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama after some Nigerians were asked to pay for their return
- Onyeama said the Nigerian government cannot afford it considering the sum being spent on COVID-19
The minister of foreign affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, has given reasons for the demand for payment for feeding and accommodation at isolation centres from prospective evacuees in the diaspora before they could be qualified for flights that would bring them to Nigeria.
Speaking on Friday, May 15 at the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Onyeama said his ministry seized the initiative to compel stranded Nigerians to pay the sum because of lack of fund to take care of them at isolation centres back home.
He said the medical infrastructure in the country was already overstretched considering the sum being spent on COVID-19 tests.
His words: “There has been quite a lot in social media especially after the recent directives that we communicated to our missions indicating a certain amount of money that anybody who wanted to be evacuated back to the country needed to pay and it wasn’t just for their air ticket but also their accommodation for two weeks and two days and the cost of feeding.
“Now this isn’t by any stretch of imagination something that the government is happy to do. As I mentioned, if the resources were there, we will evacuate everybody and if our medical infrastructure were solid and our case was much lower, we could look at other ways of revisiting our protocol.
“But the way things are, at the moment, the fragility of our health infrastructure, the trajectory of the increasing number of positive tests being what they are, we have to take the greatest care with regard to the protocol we adopt with people coming home.
“There is a lot of uproar as a result of the cost we prepared for those willing to come back but as I said, the resources aren’t there. But we are still looking for resources all over the place but knowing that time is of the essence for the people, they have to come back.”
Recall that Nigerians residing in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Thailand, who have indicated an interest in returning home, were asked to pay for flight, accommodation and feeding before they can be evacuated.
The Nigerian embassies in the three countries informed intending evacuees that they will pay N297,000 each.
Those who failed to pay were told they would not be allowed to board the flight back home.
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