In what seems to be a response to criticisms in the media the federal government has announced the involvement of Nigerian carriers to take part in the ongoing evacuation of Nigerian nationals who are stranded in foreign lands due to the COVID-19 crisis.
The minister of foreign affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama whop disclosed this at the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing in Abuja also said some flights had already been scheduled with Nigerian airlines.
He also said the government will be staggering subsequent evacuation exercises adding that it would be difficult to deal with the barrage of evacuation requests.
“Another issue that has been on the media is using Nigerian Airlines. Again the career that came from the UAE is not a government organized one and the one from the UK was coming in already and the one that came from the US was one that was arranged pretty much private sector initiative.
“The government is mindful of the importance and need to use Nigerian airlines and we are happy to say that the pipeline flights, the flights that we are in the process of arranging are all Nigerian carriers and henceforth going forward we hope that we will be using only Nigerian carriers,” he said.
On the reason for staggering return of Nigerians from other countries, Onyeama attributed it to the government’s ability to handle all the cases at once as they come in especially medically.
“We have over 600 evacuees in various accommodation in Lagos and Abuja and we are reaching, as I understand from our medical people saturation point.
“The maximum we can really cope with and be able to deliver adequately and professionally the services and the care, this would mean we will be staggering flights in evacuating Nigerians and making sure we deal with the ones we have in place before bringing back others.
“We certainly hope in a period of time we will bring back some of the others out there. We have Nigerians in China, India, Canada, South Africa, Sudan, France, Lebanon, Egypt and all this really call to question our absorptive capacity to take in such large numbers and clearly our systems are strained. So we really have to take it easier,” Onyeama added.