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Nigeria rejigs plan to rescue trapped citizens abroad

Nigeria has hit on a new system to minimize local costs of bringing in citizens who are trapped abroad and are daily crying to be rescued and brought home.

Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama (@GeoffreyOnyeama) has explained that under the new plan, evacuees are required to arrive at the airports where they will take a 5-day #Covid19 test prior to departure.

The evacuees will also be required to take another test at their arrival airports in Nigeria.

According to him, those who test positive abroad will not be allowed to board and those who continue to test negative on arrival will be let go to complete the mandatory 10-day self-isolation in their homes.

On the other hand, those who test positive within the six-day travel gap on arrival will be quarantined and treated at isolation centres.

The planned evacuation of citizens from abroad came to a screeching halt after the first round of evacuations from the UAE, UK, the USA and neighbouring West African countries, when the Ministry found that it did not have enough to foot their hotel, feeding and medical bills.

The Minister’s new plan to evacuate citizens trapped abroad has effectively transferred half the additional costs of quarantine back to the citizens at their airports of departure while government bears only isolation costs for the few that may test positive on arrival in Nigeria. This will constitute an additional pressure on returnees.

The Minister had announced on 17 May that the national oil company (NNPC) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) have both agreed to pick up the accommodation, feeding and medical bills of the citizens upon their arrival in Nigeria.

The new system has two major advantages for government, according to @GeoffreyOnyeama

It automatically removes the burden from the two government agencies and also makes it “a lot less easier and less wieldy that it had been to manage the frequency of evacuations.”

Government is persuaded by these advantages and has therefore suspended all evacuations until it puts in place this new structure which may take about a week to complete, he said.

One key aspect of the process is the installation of Covid19 testing facilities at Abuja and Lagos International Airports.

The Minister disclosed that billionaire @AlikoDangote and his private sector friends have agreed to fund the airport testing infrastructure.

Thousands of Nigerian citizens trapped abroad have been begging the government to help them escape the Coronavirus-inspired worldwide airport shutdowns, which prevents them from returning to their home country.