In a move that is obviously a diplomatic victory for Nigeria, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has relaxed what was considered a discriminatory travel requirement against Nigerian travellers after the Nigerian Government took a reciprocal action against its national carrier, Emirates Airlines, and other airlines operating from the UAE and The Netherlands.
The Nigerian Government had on March 15 slapped Emirates with a flight ban after it imposed a COVID-19 testing regime (Rapid Antigen test) that required passengers departing the country to provide result of COVID-19 test carried out within 24 hours.
THE WHISTLER recalls that it was the second time within two months that the Nigerian Government would be imposing flight ban on the UAE carrier. The country had in February imposed a three-day ban on Emirates flights.
The developments had caused tension between the Nigerian Government and Emirates, prompting the UAE carrier to announce indefinite suspension of all flights between Dubai and Nigeria.
But the Federal Government’s aggressive defence of Nigeria’s interests under the President Muhammadu Buhari administration has yielded positive results.
In a letter seen by THE WHISTLER on Wednesday, the UAE Embassy in Abuja has announced a reversal of the pre-boarding rapid diagnostic test requirement.
The letter with reference number 078/A/2021 was addressed to the protocol department of the Nigerian foreign affairs ministry.
It reads, “The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Abuja presents its compliments to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Protocol Department) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with reference to the Ministry Verbal Note No. K.521/2021 dated 16th February 2021 and the Embassy’s Note Verbal No. 049/A/2021 dated 23 February 2021.
“The Embassy has the honor to convey the response of the competent authorities in the UAE regarding the ongoing flight halt between the UAE and Nigeria as well as the travel requirements for travelers to the UAE. The UAE Government has decided to remove the requirement for a Rapid Antigen test at the airports in Nigeria while demanding the following requirements:
- Number of passengers on inbound flights to the UAE must not exceed 200 passengers for two weeks.
- Only Direct Flights between the UAE and Nigeria are allowed.
- Passengers need to present a valid negative PCR test conducted within 48 hours before boarding.
- Provide the Embassy with updated list of the approved PCR test centers by the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigerian.
- The importance of ensuring the accuracy of the passengers information, contact details and place of stay during their stay in UAE.
“The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Abuja avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Nigeria the assurances of its highest considerations.”
The development no doubt signals a vote of confidence in Nigeria’s response to the covid-19 pandemic.
But more importantly, it shows that Nigeria’s diplomatic efforts under the Buhari administration is paying off.