Minister of foreign affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, has said that Nigeria does not have the capacity and resources to absorb Nigerians abroad who want to come home due to the crisis caused globally by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
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Onyeama disclosed this while speaking on the alleged ill-treatment of Nigerian citizens in China.
The Minister said that the country currently does not have the capacity and resources to absorb Nigerians abroad who want to come home at once, saying that it would be necessary for returnees to be subjected to a 14-day quarantine treatment before integrating them into the country.
The Minister said:
We just don’t have the capacity and resources to absorb all of them immediately, so we would have to probably do it in stages. Some people are of the opinion that tests should be carried out before they leave. We know in some countries it is difficult to get testing done, but hopefully, we would be in a position to start sending out planes in a matter of days,” he said.
He also said:
It is not as simple as people think it is. We have to make provision for isolation centres for them in Nigeria here, where they would be isolated for 14 days.”
We have about 2,000 Nigerians who want to come back. They’re those in the U.S., UK, United Arab Emirate, China and (we have) 200 in Sudan, as well as students.
Onyeama stressed that authorities are currently liaising with some airlines as well as the Nigerian Emergency Management Agency, to ensure the safe arrival of Nigerian citizens abroad.
Earlier, the Nigerian government had pledged to assist citizens who want to return home but said such returnees would bear the cost of the trip.
This is coming at a time when Nigerians and other Africans were allegedly being harassed in China.
However, Onyeama blamed the tension on poor communication between the Chinese government and Nigerians.