The Oasis Reporters
April 7, 2020
Several countries have initiated the evacuation of their citizens. Below is an indicative timeline of the process so far:
Sunday March 29 – Buhari addresses Nigerians on COVID19
Sunday – Israeli ambassador successfully evacuates 247 citizens on Air Peace from Nigeria because of COVID-19
Tuesday – An Oil company lands workers from the US in Nigeria inspite of COVID-19
Thursday – France and Germany successfully evacuate 637 of their citizens from Nigeria because of COVID-19
Thursday – Nigerian Foreign Minister announces that no Nigerian abroad has requested evacuation because of COVID-19
Friday – The US evacuates hundreds of it’s citizens from Nigeria because of COVID-19
Friday – Diaspora Commission asks Nigerians to register at embassies abroad if needing evacuation because of COVID-19
Meanwhile Nigerian Government doctors abroad recalled home two weeks ago to fight COVID-19 cannot return because of airport closure.
The US is repatriating it’s citizens around the world back to America.
Here’s the problem:
– they’re moving them from a region of lower contagion to a region of higher contagion (reverse osmosis)
– they’re bringing them to a country with overstretched medical resources
– they’re potentially exposing them to infection in the evacuation process (per reports of hundreds of evacuees in congested airport departure/arrival rooms)
Here’s what could have made sense:
– let those who want to remain stay in their locations in Nigeria
– let the US build capacity and establish collaboration with local health facilities to provide services as needed to Americans and others
US could repurpose it’s recently announced $7 million aid in this direction or even scale up funding to this end.
In addition US should reconsider resuscitating the Pentagon’s pandemic containment project for West Africa which the Buhari administration scuttled.
Finally, there are reports on the botched repatriation of Americans from Lagos this weekend.
The US embassy is urged to emulate the good example set by the embassy of Israel who’s ambassador in partnership with a Nigerian airline Air Peace successfully brokered the evacuation of over 240 Israeli citizens from Nigeria to Israel before any other embassy.
Israel’s pragmatic approach in using a Nigerian airline with the necessary capacity ensured the prompt, efficient and safe evacuation of their citizens home.
It is common sense that in management of emergencies, you want to mitigate opportunities for error by minimizing margins for risk exposure.
Trying to bring in flights from the US to fly out people from Nigeria merely increases risks exposure by 50% as well as additional delays and costs.
The US embassy is encouraged to re-evaluate its strategy given the human lives at issue and the embarrassing spectacle at issue.
Utilizing Air Peace or Arik Airlines which have international flight experience and capability including flying to the US should be a no brainer in an emergent situation such as this.
We once again call on the US to lift the visa ban on Nigerian immigrants as they are key human capital components of the US medical infrastructure especially with the ongoing substantial losses of medical frontliners.
Written by Emmanuel Ogebe
US Nigeria Law Group