Senate, Reps Intervene In Nigeria, UAE Diplomatic Row
The Senate and House of Representatives have intervened in the diplomatic row between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
According to them, this is having a negative impact on Nigerians amid the work permit restriction and other challenges they face in the Arabian country.
The matter formed one of the major subjects of deliberation during Tuesday’s plenary at both chambers of the National Assembly in Abuja.
In its resolution, the Senate mandated its Committees on Foreign Affairs, Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, National Security, as well as Intelligence and Interior respectively, to interface with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and National Intelligence Agency (NIA) on best ways of resolving the dispute and report back to the lawmakers within two weeks.
The House of Representatives, on its part, set up an ad-hoc committee to liaise with relevant government agencies and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs over the treatment of Nigerians by the UAE authorities.
Calling the attention of his colleagues to the matter in the red chamber, Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, said a memorandum of understanding was signed between Nigeria and the UAE in December 2020, to provide a platform for both countries to engage each other bilaterally.
He noted that in February 2021, the Federal Government stopped the UAE national carrier – Emirates Airline from subjecting Nigerian travellers to additional rapid antigen tests, as against its stipulated negative PCR test at the Lagos and Abuja airports before departure.
According to Senator Abaribe, the airline then shut down flights to and from Nigeria as a result of the disagreement with Nigerian aviation authorities on the propriety of subjecting passengers travelling from the country to emergency COVID-19 protocols.
He explained that after an interface between the authorities of the Ministry of Aviation and Emirates Airline, flights resumed.
The lawmaker stated that the airline continued to conduct tests for passengers before departure from Nigeria, an action with the Federal Government frowned at and suspended the airline from flying to and from the country.
He decried the effect of the situation on hundreds of legal resident Nigerians living in the UAE, saying some of them were already losing their jobs on account of the refusal of the authorities to renew their work permit.
This, Senator Abaribe said, offends the letters of bilateral agreements to which both nations are signatory.
He warned that if the Nigerian government does not urgently engage the UAE authorities, thousands of Nigerians living and working in the Arabian country would lose their jobs and means of livelihood.
In the green chamber, the House Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu, who moved the motion drew the attention of the lawmakers to the ban on work permit for Nigerians among others by the UAE.
The ad-hoc committee set up by the lawmakers was directed to find out the underlying causes of the poor treatment of Nigerians living in the Arabian country.