By Uche Amunike
Some level of tension has been observed in the aviation sector as the Nigerian Govt bans flights coming in from the United Kingdom, Canada, Saudi Arabia and Argentina, effective December 14, 2021.
This was announced by Minister of Aviation, Captain Hadi Sirika on Sunday in Lagos as he explained, that the decision was taken in order to reciprocate flight restrictions from Nigeria into those particular countries concerning the new COVID-19 Variant, Omicron.
Sirika stated that Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari would also place the United Kingdom, Canada and Saudi Arabia on Nigerians red list over the outbreak and spread of the Omicron variant.
He added that those countries did not have the moral right to fly their airlines into Nigeria on commercial operations since they placed Nigeria on the red list.
He also stressed on the case of Saudi Arabia that placed Nigeria on the banned list and stated that after his meeting with the COVID-19 task force, a recommendation was made, leading Nigerian government to ban flights from those countries that have her on their red list.
Hear him: ‘As they did to us, if they do not allow our citizens into their countries; who are they coming, as airlines, to pick from our country?’
‘They are not supposed to come in. I am very sure in the next three days, Monday or Tuesday, all those countries will be put on the red list of COVID-19’, the Minister said.
He maintained that the Nigerian government banned flights from those affected countries and it shall remain so, as long as their names are placed on Nigeria’s red list.
Sirika apologized to intending Nigerian travelers to the affected countries, but explained that the decision of the Nigerian government to ban flights coming from them was done in the best interest of the country.
During a recorded interview with journalists, Sunday, Sirika averred that the recommendation by Aviation that the aforementioned countries should be be placed on COVID-19 red list like they did to Nigeria, shows that Nigeria has given her input as a nation that it is unacceptable by the country and Aviation sector and as such, they deserved to experience the same conditions meted out to Nigeria.
His words: ‘So, I am very sure between now and Monday or perhaps Tuesday maximum, all those countries will be put on the red list. Once they are on the red list, which means they are banned, their airlines will also be banned.’
The first country to release a travel ‘red list’ was the United Kingdom which Nigeria described as unfair and unjust.
On their part, the World Health Organization (WHO), has advised countries to apply an evidence-informed and risk-based approach when making decisions concerning travel measures that have to do with Omicron. This includes possible screening or quarantine of international passengers, adding that blanket bans do not prevent the spread of the pandemic.