All set for return of 265 Nigerians from UAE on Wednesday ― Minister

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Godfrey Onyema on Tuesday disclosed that the first batch of returning Nigerians in Diaspora would arrive in Nigeria on Wednesday, May 6, 2020.

The Minister who gave the hint while responding to question from members of the House of Representatives during plenary explained that all the returnees have to pay for their ticket while plans have been put in place to subsidise their hotel accommodation for the mandatory 14 days quarantine period.

He said: “Regarding the evacuation of Nigerians from overseas, the first batch by God’s grace will come in tomorrow from the UAE.

“The challenge has been enormous in trying to arrange for this evacuation into the country.

“The first challenge was the question of accommodating them somewhere for the 14 days of quarantine.

“We have problems with accommodation here in Abuja initially. The hotels were not very keen to receive anything that has to do with this COVID-19.

“But with time and with greater sensitisation they are much more willing to do so now.

“But of course, our plans all along was to take some to Lagos and to take some to Abuja. Now, we have much difficulty getting accommodation in Lagos, but the governor of Lagos, as I’ve said in many fora, has been absolutely fantastic in the assistance given us in getting more rooms in Lagos.

“So, where we are today is that tomorrow, we hope to have like 265 Nigerians coming in. And they will be hosted in Orchid hotel in Lekki and also the Swiss International in Ikeja.

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“One of the few challenges we’ve also been facing is that a lot of these compatriots have stayed much longer than they have planned and envisaged in these countries and overseas, unfortunately.

“And of course, they have to pay for hotels and things that they never planned or budgeted for. And we struggled and we are still struggling to get funding for this whole exercise.

“Ordinarily, it was an emergency and the government will be able to fund it but in this case, we have to ask them to fund their own tickets.

“We are now working out modalities to at least try to subsidise their return with the accommodation.

“Because again, they are expected to pay for 14 days in the hotels. We’ve tried to negotiate as well as we can with these hotels with the figure of N20,000 for the Lagos hotels and N15,000 for the Abuja hotels.

“But as I said, we are truly trying to see how we can support them in paying for that,” Onyema told the lawmakers.

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