STRANDED FOR REAL
Princess Ekwi Ajide
With COVID-19 pandemic ravaging different countries of the world many countries have continued to airlift their citizens who are stranded in other countries.
Nigerians were also stranded in many countries of the world owing to the lockdown. Some of these stranded Nigerians were traders or businessmen who had travelled for business or vacation before the global lockdown; some others are irregular immigrants who because of the lockdown had neither job nor accommodation.
Of this group, the Federal government of Nigeria claimed to have evacuated a total 678 from various countries of the world since the Coronavirus travel restrictions.
The special evacuation exercise began on Wednesday with the return of 265 Nigerians from the United Arab Emirates.
On Friday, 253 Nigerians were brought back from the United Kingdom, followed by 160 from the United States on Sunday.
Another 200 Nigerians stranded in Canada were also expected to be evacuated but what the Nigeria government is not saying is that after paying the one way flight at the rate of 1,130 dollars (N452,000) and 2,000 dollars (N800,000) depending on the class.
Upon return, the evacuees are still expected to pay for accommodation at #15,000 per night for 16 days and for feeding at #3,600 per day for 16 days. That is to say that every supposedly stranded Nigerian has to pay an extra #297,600.00 for coming home.
Mr. Ifeanyi Okafor, father to one of the evacuees told Gist Agrica that he had to make up for his sons fees. He wondered why government will bring back its citizens and subject them to untold hardship.
“They said they’re bringing back stranded citizens only to make them stranded for real. I had to send my son money to make up for what they’re asking him to pay.” He said
“If they can’t even keep them in quarantine without asking them to pay then let them go to their homes and quarantine themselves.” Mr. Okafor continued.
Former Senator from Kaduna, Shehu Sani reacted to Nigerians returning home due to coronavirus pandemic only to be asked to offset their two-week quarantine bill on arrival.
The Nigerian government had in a revised guideline asked returnees to pay for their two weeks stay at isolation centers.
Before Friday, the returnees were only required to pay for their flight back home while the government took care of them for two weeks in their various isolation centres.
But in the letter by the Embassy of Nigeria in Bangkok, Thailand, which was signed by the Head of Chancery, Nicholas P. Uhomoibhi, and dated May 14, each returnee is to pay N297,600 for quarantine and feeding in Nigeria this Sani condemned, saying the federal government should not expect patriotism from Nigerians outside the country if they have to pay to be evacuated.
His tweet reads: “If distressed Nigerians in Diaspora have to pay to be evacuated and have to pay for isolation centers when back home, then we should formally paste a Cheque Book on our National flag and affix a Bank note to our Coat of Arms.
“Expect no patriotism from a man abandoned by his country.”