The Federal Government has called on the United Kingdom government to lift travel ban imposed on Nigerians following discovery of Omicron variant of COVID-19 virus among travellers from Nigeria that tested positive.
The Federal Government urged the UK to lift the ban and described the decision as “unfair, unjust, punitive and discriminatory because it does not follow science.”
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed made the position of the government known on Monday at a press briefing in Abuja.
He said: “As you are aware, Britain has put Nigeria on its red list and banned foreign travels from our country.
“This is as a result of the discovery of COVID-19 cases, Omicron variant, in Nigeria. Britain now joins other countries, including Canada, which have taken a similar action against Nigeria over Omicron.
“Let me say straight away that it’s up to the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) to respond to this action by the British government and others, and I have no doubt that the committee will respond appropriately.
“However, as the Spokesman for the Federal Government, I can say, without mincing words, that the decision by the British government to put Nigeria on the red list, just because of less than two dozen cases of Omicron which, by the way, did not originate in Nigeria, is unjust, unfair, punitive, indefensible and discriminatory. The decision is also not driven by science.
“We sincerely hope the British government will immediately review the decision to put Nigeria on its red list and rescind it immediately.
“Nigeria has handled the Covid-19 pandemic with utmost responsibility and based on science, and has rightly earned global accolades for its efforts.
“Nigeria does not belong on any country’s red list,” he added.
Ban will affect tourism, major exporting sectors —Adegboruwa
Meanwhile, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, highlighted some of the consequences of the travel ban on Nigerians.
According to him, the ban would affect Nigerian investment from international collaboration.
He also noted that it will affect tourism and major exporting sectors.
Adegboruwa further reveal that, “this Nigerian education sector would be the most affected because it will hinder students from studying abroad.”
Health Ministers, Perm Sec. absent at COVID-19 summit: Senate President blasts trio’s absence
The Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, on Monday, slammed the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunimbe Mamora, and the Permanent Secretary, Mahmuda Mamman, for being absent at the national COVID-19 summit.
The summit is an assemblage of key actors in the health, economic, security, and policy-making sectors of the country aimed at bringing stakeholders together to discuss the theme: “Pushing Through the Last Mile to End the Pandemic and Build Back Better.”
According to Lawan, the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 is simply an interventionist outfit, hence the ministry of health is meant to be physically present to collate the outcome of the summit.
He maintained that another senior official should have stood in to represent the Minister of Health to demonstrate the seriousness of the event.
The Senate President who declared the summit opened said: “Before I begin my remark, is the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Health here? Well, I asked that question because the two Ministers of Health are not here. The Minister of Health, the Minister of State and the Permanent Secretary are not here. I believe this is not good.”
When told that Ehanire was present earlier, the Senate President responded that, “He just left but somebody should have replaced him. Because everything we do here, the Federal Ministry of Health is supposed to be here to garner all the resources that will come out of this.
“The PSC is simply an interventionist outfit. And as politicians and political leaders, we are supposed to be very serious and committed about the health of our people,” he added.
Meanwhile, the sub-themes for the summit include “Leadership and Governance in Pandemic Recovery and Reconstruction pand Nigeria’s Health-Security Framework For Effective Response to Global Health Security Threats.”