The federal government on Tuesday said it lacked the capacity and resources needed to cater for over 2,000 Nigerians who have expressed willingness to return to the country owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Geoffrey Onyeama, Minister of Foreign Affairs who disclosed this while featuring on ‘Politics Today’, a daily programme on Channels Television, said the Foreign Affairs Ministry is already working with some airlines and the Nigerian Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to bring in Nigerians who have expressed desire to return to the country.
He said the government has received requests from Nigerians in United Kingdom (UK), United States of America (USA), United Arab Emirates
(UAE), China, Sudan and from students who are studying in other countries abroad.
“We are at a stage now where the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is working with Nigeria Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), they are the agency responsible for emergency such as this. We are working very closely together.”
“We have asked certain airlines to activate and hopefully by today or tomorrow, we would have decided on the airlines that we will use.
Hopefully, we will now be able to very soon thereafter be able to send the planes out”.
On the challenges confronting the government, Onyeama said the government may need to bring back the would-be returnees in batches
as the country lacks enough isolation centres where they will be kept for 14 days upon their return to the country.
“There are other challenges. It is not as simple as going out and bringing people back in. We have to have isolation centres for them
here in Nigeria. They need to spend 14 days here.”
“There are about 2,000 Nigerians that want to come back. There are those in the US, UK, United Arab Emirates (UAE), China; there are 200
in Sudan; there are students as well.”
“We just don’t have the capacity and resources to absorb all of them immediately. So, we will have to bring people in in stages and there
are others who are saying testing should be carried out before; we know in some other countries, it is difficult to get testing done but hopefully, we will be in a position to start sending planes out in a matter of days”.