OrderPaperToday – The House of Representatives has called for immediate action to resolve the lingering diplomatic row between Nigeria and United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The decision was sequel to a motion on national public importance brought by Mr. Ndudi Elumelu during plenary session in the National Assembly on Tuesday.
In a unanimous decision, the House resolved to set up an adhoc committee from the following standing committees: Aviation, Foreign Affairs, National Security and Intelligence and Interior, National Orientation Agency, Diaspora and Treaties.
The committee is to interface with the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Aviation and National Intelligence Agency (NIA), the Presidential Steering Committee on Covid-19, Nigeria Immigration Service, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, and National Orientation Agency on best ways of resolving the diplomatic row and report back to the House within 4 weeks.
While leading debate on the matter, Elumelu noted that “Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have had a positive diplomatic relationship and in 2009 the UAE established its Embassy in Nigeria.
“In December 2020, a Memorandum of Understanding was executed between Nigeria and the UAE to provide a platform for both countries to engage each other bilaterally. In February 2021, the federal government of Nigeria stopped the UAE national carrier, Emirates airline from subjecting Nigerian travellers to additional rapid antigen test as against its stipulated negative PCR test at the Lagos and Abuja airports before departure.
“Emirates airline then shut down flights to and from Nigeria owing to the disagreement between the airline and the aviation authorities on the propriety of subjecting passengers travelling from Nigeria to emergency COVID-19 protocols”.
The lawmaker noted that after an interface between the authorities of the aviation ministry and Emirates airline, flights resumed but that the airline continued to conduct test for passengers before departure from Nigeria, a development the federal government frowned at and thus suspended the airline from flying to and from Nigeria.
He expressed concerns on “allegations that hundreds of legal resident Nigerians living in UAE are losing their jobs on account of the refusal of the authorities to renew their work permit which offends the letters of bilateral agreements which both nations are signatory to,” suggesting a “calculated attempt to pressure the Nigerian Government into accepting their conditions of service for their national airline that may have lost humongous revenue from the Nigeria route.”
Mr. Elumelu further expressed worries that “if the Nigerian government does not urgently engage the authorities of the UAE , thousands of Nigerians living and working will lose their jobs and means of livelihood hence the need for a quick interface with the authorities of the UAE” to resolve the row.
The motion was passed when Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila put the question.