The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo SAN, is set to depart Nigeria tonight to the United Arab Emirates, where he is expected to join President Bola Tinubu and other government functionaries in a bid to resolve the Emirates Airline flight suspension to Nigeria, visa ban and other diplomatic issues.
Following the diplomatic rows between Nigeria and the UAE, the Emirates’ airlines suspended its flight operations into the country and placed a visa ban on Nigerians.
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 bilaterally.
Recall that in February 2021, the Federal Government of Nigeria stopped the UAE national carrier, Emirates airline from subjecting Nigerian travelers to additional rapid antigen test, as against its stipulated negative PCR test at the Lagos and Abuja airports before departure.
Emirates airline shut down flights to and from Nigeria owing to the disagreement between the airline and the Nigerian Aviation Authorities on the propriety of subjecting passengers travelling from Nigeria to emergency COVID-19 protocols.
Flights resumed subsequently, after an interface between the airline and the Ministry of Aviation. However, Emirates airline continued conducting test for passengers before departure from Nigeria, a development the Federal Government frowned at and suspended the airline from flying to and from Nigeria.
Following this development, there have been allegations that some legal resident Nigerians living in UAE lost their jobs on account of the refusal of the authorities to renew their work permit, which offends the letter of bilateral agreements both nations are signatories to. Amidst speculations that the actions of the UAE authorities are attempts aimed at putting the Nigerian Government under pressure to accept their conditions of service for their national airline that may have lost revenue from the Nigeria route, the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development will be meeting with President Tinubu and other government functionaries at the UAE to resolve the Emirates airline flight suspension and Visa ban issues affecting Nigerians.