FG Questions UAE Over Visa Ban, Flight Restriction

UAE placed a visa ban on applicants from Ghana, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Cameroon, Nigeria, Liberia, Burundi, Republic of Guinea, Gambia, Togo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal, Benin, Ivory Coast, Congo, Rwanda, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, Comoros, Uganda and Dominican Republic.

The Federal Government may have begun moves to tackle the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over its visa ban and flight restriction against Nigeria.

Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefiele yesterday expressed displeasure over the decision of the UAE to impose a visa ban on Nigerians as well as stop Emirates Airline from flying into the country.

He said Nigeria is a big market for their business, adding that they should not continue to threaten the country over little disagreements.

The CBN governor spoke at a meeting convened by the leadership of the House of Representatives to resolve the $700 million of trapped funds of foreign airlines operating in the country.

Emefiele said the Federal Government was making efforts to ensure the money was repatriated to the various countries, adding that the measures adopted by the UAE were unnecessary.

Also piqued by the action of the UAE, Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika said Nigeria did not care if the UAE decided to shut out the country.

He said though he sympathised with the foreign airlines over the trapped funds, there was no ground for threatening the country with such a measure.

Emefiele said the state of the global economy was making it difficult to generate foreign exchange to enable the countries get their money back.

He assured those concerned that the money would be paid.

House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila said the issue of blocked or trapped funds of foreign airlines was giving the House a lot of concerns.

The Speaker, who also said the principle of reciprocity requires that Nigerian carriers are also allowed to fly into countries whose airlines have a huge market in the country.

The Speaker urged that the international airlines to lift the restrictions placed on Nigerian travellers, saying efforts were being made to ensure the trapped funds are paid by December.

Also, the Director General of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) at Kuru in Jos, Plateau State, Professor Ayo Omotayo, expressed dismay over the visa ban slammed on Nigerians seeking to visit Dubai by the United Arab Emirate (UAE).

The DG spoke yesterday at the leadership and management retreat for workers of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment at the NIPSS.

He said: “I have been to Dubai several times. I don’t see any big deal going to Dubai. As Nigerians who have self-pride, we should ban ourselves from going to Dubai. Is it the hotels or sea that is not anywhere else in the world? I don’t think we should be at the mercy of any country.”

“We have what it takes to be better than Dubai. The Emirates did not make the place themselves; it is a combination of people from all walks life that made Dubai. We should give ourselves self-ban. We have nothing to lose,” he said.

Omotayo, who said Nigeria is in the era of destructive leadership, advised the citizens, specially the elite, to change their perception about the way things should be done.

According to him, there should be different approaches and perceptions towards issues affecting the country.

“We are in the era of destructive leadership. You cannot continue to do things the way you have been doing those things. We must begin to have different perspectives of doing things. We must exchange ideas. We cannot afford to continue to move in a cycle. We must reflect ideas, we must create an avenue for solutions to our problems.”

Also, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Productivity, Mrs. Daju Kachollom Shangti, decried the gap in knowledge and awareness about administrative procedures, ongoing civil service reforms, strategic thinking and government policies, especially on the need to have relevant data to carry out the mandate to achieve National Development Plan (2021-2025).

The Permanent Secretary said there were yearning gaps in communication and administrative procedures between the ministry’s headquarters and its corporations.

She noted that the gaps contributed to the hindered quality of delivery of the ministry’s mandates.

“However, achieving this will require complementary efforts and teamwork by all of you. Without your cooperation, it would be almost impossible to change the narrative and reposition the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment to ‘Grade A’ ministry.

“This change is important as the Federal Government itself, through the Federal Civil Service Strategy Implementation Plan, recognises culture change as a key pillar and component to reforming the service,” she said.