Geofferey Onyeama, Nigeria’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, says the evacuation of Nigerians from abroad due to the Coronavirus pandemic, will commence on Wednesday May 6th with the first evacuation from Dubai.
The Minister disclosed this when he spoke at the daily briefing of the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 today May 4. According to Onyeama, an Emirates flight from Dubai is expected in Lagos on Wednesday May 6, this will be followed by a BA flight from the UK on Friday May 8.
From Wednesday by God’s Grace, we will start the process of evacuation of our Nationals from outside the country. There are almost 4000 Nigerians wishing to come back home. If we had our way, we will bring them back home all at once but there are various constraints and the biggest constraint is where to quarantine them., particularly the bed.
So we have done everything we can to get beds in Abuja and in Lagos.
In Lagos we have about 300 bed available.
The first flight that we hope to have on Wednesday is Emirates and it will be to Lagos. Then we are hoping that soon after that, a British Airways flight that is coming to Nigeria to evacuate some British citizens will help bring Nigerians coming back. So we are hoping that on Friday, we will be able to evacuate from the UK anything up to 300 or less Nigerians.
We have also told our mission in the US that if there are any flights available, they should do a deal with them and get them to bring our people back. Our missions in New York, Atlanta and Washigton have told us that Ethiopian airline does have a regular commercial programme out of the US. So we are hoping that Monday next week, we can do a deal with Ethiopian airline to bring back a significant number of our people.
AirPeace has been chartered for a medical evacuation by a couple based here in Nigeria to London, so we are trying to also do a deal with them to have another UK flight coming in probably on Saturday.
China of course is a huge crisis and we are trying to see if we can get a plane to go and evacuate. There is a large number of our people there who have additional challenges so we are also working to bring them back. We are hoping to have an agreement with one of the carriers so maybe by a week or two, we can move into China to bring our people home.
South Africa, India, they are all also waiting. There are about 4000 of them so we will have to be patient. It is not easy but we are doing everything possible to bring our people back ” he said