Amidst the Nigeria-United Arab Emirates (UAE) diplomatic spat, the federal government has insisted that Nigerians have the right to travel directly to Dubai without flying Emirates.
On Monday, aviation minister Hadi Sirika, while briefing the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, accused the UAE of blocking direct flights to Dubai, asserting that the government will not succumb to the Middle East country’s discriminatory position.
The minister stressed that “agreement and international convention” should guide civil aviation as he assured Nigerians of their right to travel to Dubai without any discrimination.
”We are aware that some have to travel for medical reasons while some have to resume work. Some are students and even holidaymakers.
”We believe that you have the right to travel to Dubai, and you will do so, and for the sake of the international convention, we cannot be discriminated against,“ he explained.
The minister further condemning the UAE’s “unscientific” discrimination against Nigerians, noted, ”Even Ghanaians, Nigeriens, and other African countries can go to Dubai directly. So, the protocol is country-specific, and it is not acceptable by the agreement and convention that we signed with UAE.”
Mr Sirika also disclosed that the UAE accused Nigerians of presenting fake COVID-19 test results.
He stated, ”It is only one aviation, and we found this position to be discriminatory against our country, and it is not acceptable. We thought we could take it diplomatically and we have been meeting and exchanging ideas because, at some point, they said they are hard on Nigerians because there are fake results.
”I said there are fake results in UAE, Germany, USA. All over the world, there are fake results, but Nigeria went ahead to put measures in place to detect fake results.”
Mr Sirika further explained that “we have gone the extra mile plus if you look at the rate of infection and the rate of people catching COVID-19 in Nigeria, we are far less than many other countries in the world which UAE did not apply that principle.”
Mr Sirika argued that though the COVID-19 death toll in Nigeria was 3,000, and “in one day, 3,000 Italians died or British, and they were still being allowed to go direct to UAE.”