Coronavirus: We’ve no capacity to absorb Nigerians abroad now – Minister


Nigeria’s minister of foreign affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, has said the country does not have the capacity and resources to absorb Nigerians abroad who want to come home immediately due to the crisis caused globally by the coronavirus pamdemic.

The minister disclosed this on Tuesday during “Channels TV Politics Today show” while speaking on the alleged ill-treatment of Nigerian citizens in China.

The minister said the country currently does not have the capacity and resources to absorb Nigerians abroad who want to come home at once, “as it would be necessary for returnees to be subjected to a 14-day quarantine treatment before integrating them into the country.”

This is a necessary prerequisite adopted by nations to curb the rapid spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We just don’t have the capacity and resources to absorb all of them immediately, so we would have to probably do it in stages. Some people are of the opinion that tests should be carried out before they leave. We know in some countries it is difficult to get testing done, but hopefully, we would be in a position to start sending out planes in a matter of days,” he said.

He also said “It is not as simple as people think it is. We have to make provision for isolation centres for them in Nigeria here, where they would be isolated for 14 days.”

“We have about 2,000 Nigerians who want to come back. They’re those in the U.S., UK, United Arab Emirate, China and (we have) 200 in Sudan, as well as students,” he said.

Mr Onyeama also said the authorities are currently liaising with some airlines as well as the Nigerian Emergency Management Agency, to ensure the safe arrival of Nigerian citizens abroad.

Earlier, the Nigerian government had pledged to assist citizens who want to return home but said such returnees would bear the cost of the trip.

However, Mr Onyeama blamed the tension on “poor communication between the Chinese government and Nigerians.”

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