AS a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, over 1,000 Nigerians in the United States and other European countries have applied to the Federal Government to facilitate their return to the country.
The government has given two conditions to be met.They must undergo a compulsory COVID-19 test in their host countries before leaving and subject themselves to a 14-day quarantine on arrival.The conditions are in line with the guidelines of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).Besides, they will bear all expenses of the trip.The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), headed by Abike Dabiri-Erewa, it was learnt, has been collating the requests.
Nigerians who want to return home are in China, United States, United Kingdom, France, the United Arab Emirates, Spain and Italy.Records showed that 200 of the 1,000 applicants are those in the United States, which is now the epicentre of COVID-19.A top source, who spoke in confidence with our correspondent, said: “So far, over 1,000 Nigerians have shown interest to be evacuated. The Federal Government has opened up talks with the relevant authorities and embassies.“Some logistics are being worked out on how to airlifts the affected Nigerians. This administration is committed to the welfare of Nigerians at home and abroad.
“But as for those returning, they have to meet two criteria in line with the protocol of NCDC. They will undergo COVID-19 test before leaving their host countries and compulsory 14-day isolation when they arrive in Nigeria.“These two conditions are necessary in order to consider the interest of the larger population. If there is any spike, Nigerians will blame it on those who have returned from abroad.”The source added: “We are still collating figures because more Nigerians are interested in coming back home.”Giving details on her twitter handle, the Chairperson of NIDCOM, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa said: “Several people have registered.””Those stranded are actually not Nigerians living abroad. They are mainly Nigerians who traveled for one reason or the other and got stranded. They want to return home. We will do our best, with strict rules for them to follow before being allowed to board.”She said the Federal Government was doing its best to negotiate reasonable fares for those willing to return home.She added: “The Nigerian government is also doing its best. I hope you know how heavily US, Canadian and other citizens paid to go back to their countries. Nigeria is even negotiating very reasonable airfares. These are not normal times and we all hope it comes to an end.”On the conditions set by the Federal Government, she added: “Unfortunately, that is the protocol given as at today which NIDCOM has no control over. If anything changes, all will be informed.“It is beyond NIDCOM’s power. It’s an NCDC protocol based on very cogent reasons, I am sure.We will continue to engage with them.”