By Rasheed Sobowale
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama has confirmed the content of letters forwarded to Nigerian evacuees on the need to pay a total of N297,600 for their hotel, isolation, and quarantine upon arrival in Nigeria as a precondition for their airlift.
Recall Vanguard earlier reported that letters forwarded to intending Nigerian returnees from Bangkok and Kuwait stated they were to pay a sum of N297,600
The letter, titled “Re: Request for the evacuation of Nigerian nationals in the wake of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, reads in part-
“The negotiated rate is as follows: Accommodation-N240,000 (N15,000 x16 days); Feeding-N57,6009( N3,600 x 16 days). Total- N297,600 (N18,600 x16 days).”
Onyeama speaking during the Presidential Task Force briefing on Monday said the Ministry had to take such measures because it lacks the required funding.
“We had to do this because we just do not have the funding. The first three sets of evacuees, we used funding that was actually meant for something else in the hope that we might get some funding to continue.
“And that funding dried up. So, we found ourselves in a situation where either we stop evacuation for lack of funding but we knew there are so many people who are desperate to get back. Or we pass on the cost to the evacuees.
“What I did say is that I will spare no effort in trying to source for funding from whatever source we could find it. And that will be an ongoing process.
“Friday night after getting the barrage from around the world including that we are somehow conspiring with hotels to fleece Nigerians and make money for ourselves and other kinds of accusations.
“We continued nevertheless to find a way through. And as they say that two heads are better than one, and the honourable minister of environment, Dr Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar, on Friday night suggested we partner with NNPC and CBN because they have corporate and social responsibility.
Onyeama said the governor of CBN, Godwin Emefiele agreed to help but also sounded a note of concern that the amount that will be needed to cater for the Nigerian evacuees will be over a billion naira considering there are over 4,000 Nigerians that need to be evacuated.
Emefiele according to the minister of foreign affairs said he was ready to share the cost with the NNPC to ensure something is done about the situation.
The minister also noted the General Managing Director of NNPC, Mallam Mele Kolo Kyari, promised to partner with the CBN governor to fund the accommodation and feeding of the returnees.