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Nigeria warns UK, Saudi Arabia, Canada, others - "Remove Nigeria from Red List now or else..."

  The Federal Government has sent a strong warning to four countries which recently placed Nigeria on their “red list” in the wake of the di...

 

The Federal Government has sent a strong warning to four countries which recently placed Nigeria on their “red list” in the wake of the discovery of COVID-19 Omicron variant.

The United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Canada and Argentina had recently imposed restrictive measures on Nigeria, specifically barring flights from Nigeria into their countries.

Acting Chairman, Presidential Steering Committee PSC on COVID-19 and Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika disclosed this on Monday in Abuja at a news conference.

On the diplomatic spat between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates UAE, Sirika said as of 4pm on Monday, he had not received the purported letter from the UAE which barred Air Peace operated flights to Nigeria.

He said Nigeria takes the business of governance very serious and would rather wait to receive the UAE letter through internationally recognized diplomatic channels rather than the social media.

As part of its principle of reciprocity with other countries, the Federal Government had at the weekend concluded plans to retaliate discriminatory measures put in place by those countries against Nigeria in the wake of the discovery of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 across the world.

Nigeria currently has 11 cases of the Omicron variant, a far cry from what obtains in the four countries which have higher figures.

Nigeria has consistently protested the measures put in place by the four countries, saying they were not based on data and science but on myth.

At Monday’s briefing of the PSC, Mr Sirika said if the affected countries fail to heed calls to reverse the restrictive measures, the PSC would meet again to respond appropriately.

He said; “With the emergence of the new COVID-19 Omicron Variant, now spreading very fast globally, Nigeria has continued to study developments and has deployed science and data to measure the risks to our citizens especially, the dangers of importation.

“The PSC wishes to assure Nigerians that it has escalated all surveillance and control measures around our country. It has similarly ramped up vaccination of eligible citizens and residents while making provisions for booster shots for those fully vaccinated.

“The PSC is working with mandate Ministries to address the issues surrounding the restriction imposed by some countries on travelers from Nigeria on account of the Omicron variant. While each country is entitled to put in place measures to protect its citizens. Nigeria has similar responsibilities. However, based on existing relationships, Nigeria has initiated diplomatic steps to make these countries reverse their course. This is on-going in the interest of all parties concerned and we expect that positive results would emerge within the next one week.

“The PSC also evaluated the developments on the relationship between Nigeria and the UAE and we are pleased to inform you that the position of the Federal Government is in line with established International Civil Aviation Organization ICAO Protocols and the spirit of the Bilateral Air Services Agreement BASA signed with the UAE. Our sovereignty remains paramount and mutual respects shall be our guiding principle in as much as it should be in the best interest of Nigeria.

“If UK, Canada and others do not delist Nigeria from the red list, the truth is that COVID-19 is scientific and its management is scientific. We believe science is factual and we are deploying measures to save humans from dying. We strongly believe that they will respond and delist Nigeria. If not, it doesn’t make any sense for us to continue to put our citizens at risk. We will take the necessary steps to protect our citizens. After all, the Federal Government of Nigeria under Buhari’s administration has done extremely well in the management of COVID-19 till date”.

On its part, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency NPHCDA said it was waiting for clearance from the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control NAFDAC as well as the Abuja Environmental Protection Board AEPB for the safe disposal of over a million doses of expired vaccines.

Executive Director of the NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib also reiterated the position of the PSC not to accept vaccines with short shelf life. He said the government has never administered expired vaccines on Nigerians and would never do so.

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