The Nigerian Federal Government is set to restrict airlines coming from Canada, the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia, into Nigeria from Tuesday, December 14, 2021, in response to the Covid-19 “red-listing” of a majority of African nations by Canada, the UK, Saudi Arabia, etc.
This decision of the Nigerian government to retaliate was disclosed by the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, on Sunday in Lagos. The government took the decision to reciprocate restricted flights from Nigeria into those countries over the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron.
Hadi Sirika stated that countries that placed a travel ban on Nigeria due to the Omicron Covid-19 variant lacked a moral right to have their airlines fly into Nigeria on commercial operations.
“President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration would also place the United Kingdom, Canada and Saudi Arabia on a red list over the outbreak and spread of the Omicron variant.
“There is also the case of Saudi Arabia that put Nigeria on the ban list. On Sunday, I participated in a meeting with the COVID-19 task force.
“We have given our input that it is not acceptable by us and we recommended that those Canada, the UK, Saudi Arabia and Argentina also be put on the red list.
“As they did to us, if they do not allow our citizens into their countries; who are they coming, as airlines, to pick from our country? They are not supposed to come in. I am very sure in the next three days; Monday or Tuesday, all those countries will be put on the red list of COVID-19,”
He stressed that airlines of the affected countries remained banned and the countries placed on Nigeria’s red list. The minister however, apologized to Nigerians intending to travel to those countries but said the Nigerian government’s decision was in the interest of the country.
The initial decision to lace Nigeria on a Red-list was taken following an increase in the number of cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 across the world. The UK is the third country to impose a travel ban on Nigeria after Canada and Singapore.
By Oluwamayowa Akinyemi