Domestic Airlines in the country are bidding for the evacuation of Nigerians stranded in the United States, United Kingdom, China and other countries, this is as there is a ban on flights by the respective nations on account of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Federal Government has revealed that it was in the process of selecting airlines offering the lowest costs, adding that the National Emergency Management Agency had been directed to conduct the process.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, disclosed this in Abuja on Tuesday, during a joint press briefing with the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr Zhou Pingjian, on the reported stigmatisation and harassment of Nigerians in Guangzhou by Chinese officials.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs with the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr Zhou Pingjian.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs with the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr Zhou Pingjian.

Over 2,000 Nigerians abroad have indicated interest to return home
Many of them are students, tourists and businessmen and women who travelled to the US, UK, Australia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and other countries before the authorities shut their air space to curb COVID-19.
Responding to questions on the evacuation, Onyeama said, “The evacuation may take longer; we have evacuated people from Cote d’Ivoire and Togo, almost a hundred in total. But by plane, we have to put in place, first of all, isolation centres because when they come into the country, they have to be isolated.
“So, we have spent a lot of resources putting in place those centres, addressing the challenges we have, some of the people we have to accommodate, we put all that in place.”
The Minister noted that the government would also identify those that had been tested or treated, adding that the logistics of the evacuation was daunting.
“The state we are is identifying airlines we would use to bring these people back. We are working with the National Emergency Management Agency on this because that is the agency responsible for emergencies.
“The Director-General (NEMA) has already asked the various airlines interested in this evacuation to make their bids. The numbers are huge, so the challenges are huge. A whole lot of issues that we have to address: whether they have been tested before and where they would be isolated when they come here,” he added.
The Minister reiterated that the evacuation was not free, adding that the government was working to get the lowest ticket costs.
“Of course, they (evacuees) have to pay. We are trying to get the very best at the lowest cost for seats for the nationals. Hopefully, very soon, we would start the process of the airlifting. Some people who went to do business with return tickets, those are really the persons we have in mind to bring back,” he clarified.
Meanwhile, the Minister and the Chinese envoy have blamed poor communication between the Guangzhou authorities and African consulates for the alleged maltreatment of Nigerians reported in the area.
Onyeama said the Nigerian officials in China informed him that poor communication was responsible on efforts made by Chinese authorities to contain an incident of a lady who tested positive for COVID-19 in the city.
Recalling the incident, he made reference to a viral video which explained that the situation was misrepresented.
The Minister said there was a flight, which conveyed a group of Nigerians to Guangzhou in which some Nigerians on the flight tested positive for COVID-19.
Amongst the Nigerians, the minister stated, was a lady who owned a restaurant in Guangzhou, who also tested positive.
“The Chinese demanded and insisted that they all be quarantined, with nobody allowed to come out for 14 days and if anybody came out from that quarantine, that they should not be allowed in.
“Now, it was misinterpreted by some of the Nigerians and Africans who could not understand why it seemed to be selective and targeting only themselves,” Onyeama said.

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