By Hannatu Sadiq
The Nigerian Government has taken a firm stance in the defense of the right of Nigerians to travel directly to Dubai amidst the Nigeria-United Arab Emirates (UAE) diplomatic tension.
On Monday, Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika, while briefing the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, asserted that the government will not bow to the Middle East country’s discriminatory position.
The minister accused the UAE of blocking direct flights to Dubai and insisted that Nigerians have the right to travel to UAE without flying Emirates.
The minister stressed that “agreement and international convention” should guide civil aviation as he assured Nigerians of their right to travel to Dubai without any discrimination.
“We are aware that some have to travel for medical reasons while some have to resume work. Some are students and even holidaymakers.
“We believe that you have the right to travel to Dubai, and you will do so, and for the sake of the international convention, we cannot be discriminated against,“ he explained.
The minister further condemning the UAE’s “unscientific” discrimination against Nigerians, cited, “Even Ghanaians, Nigeriens, and other African countries can go to Dubai directly. So, the protocol is country-specific, and it is not acceptable by the agreement and convention that we signed with UAE.”
Mr Sirika also disclosed that the UAE’s travel restriction was on the basis of fake COVID-19 test results presented by Nigerians.
He stated, “It is only one aviation, and we found this position to be discriminatory against our country, and it is not acceptable. We thought we could take it diplomatically and we have been meeting and exchanging ideas because, at some point, they said they are hard on Nigerians because there are fake results.
“I said there are fake results in UAE, Germany, USA. All over the world, there are fake results, but Nigeria went ahead to put measures in place to detect fake results.”
Mr Sirika explained that “we have gone the extra mile plus if you look at the rate of infection and the rate of people catching COVID-19 in Nigeria, we are far less than many other countries in the world which UAE did not apply that principle.”
Mr Sirika conclusively argued that Italians and British are still being allowed to go to UAE even though the COVID-19 infection and death toll in these countries are incomparable to cases in Nigeria.