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7 weeks after Tinubu’s visit, Nigeria, UAE row lingers

Nigerians in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have decried the delay in resolving the diplomatic row between Nigeria and the Middle East country. They urged…

Nigerians in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have decried the delay in resolving the diplomatic row between Nigeria and the Middle East country.

They urged the Federal Government of Nigeria to urgently interface with the UAE authorities to lift the ban on work permit and visa issuance to Nigerians, saying many of them were experiencing hard times on account of the development.

They said those currently working were living in fear of losing their jobs; while many legitimate residents could not find jobs because of the ban on work permits.

Daily Trust learnt that many Nigerians. who secured jobs with some top rated companies in the UAE, were stranded because the authorities were not issuing fresh residency permits and visas.

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It would be recalled that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu had, seven weeks ago, visited the UAE to resolve the lingering diplomatic row between the two countries which had seen the UAE flag carrier, Emirates, suspend flights to Nigeria.

After the visit, Tinubu’s spokesman, Ajuri Ngelale, had said the UAE agreed to lift the visa ban and that the UAE carriers, Emirates and Etihad, would soon resume flights.

Government officials, including the Minister of Aviation, Festus Keyamo, later said discussions were still ongoing.

About two months later, nothing has happened even as Nigerians in UAE said the restriction on Nigerians to work in the Arab country is taking a toll on them.

They specifically called on the Federal Government to clear the Emirates’ Airlines’ trapped funds, saying this was the major reason the UAE government slammed a visa ban on Nigeria.

Daily Trust reports that Emirates Airlines has over $85m of its fund trapped in Nigeria out of over $700m the government is owing airlines.

The Minister of Aviation, Festus Keyamo, had also repeatedly assured that the government would clear the backlog of trapped funds belonging to foreign airlines. 

Most of them have taken to social media to vent their anger over what they called the seeming inaction of the Federal Government while its citizens face untold hardship in the UAE.

“We want to use this medium to call on the Federal Government of Nigeria, the President, the Senate President, the Speaker House of Representatives, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Director-General of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, we want to call on all of you to please see to the sufferings of Nigerians in UAE, it is getting tough for us here.

“We are losing jobs every day, we cannot afford our bills again because we are losing our jobs. We cannot get work permits and visas and this is taking a whole lot from us. Some of us have paid for visas but we cannot get them,” said Enifome Caroline Elijah in a chat with our correspondent.

She disagreed that Nigerians were slammed with visa and work permit bans because of the criminal activities of some Nigerians living in Dubai, saying the main reason was the Emirates’ Airlines’ trapped funds.

She noted that the issue had dragged on for over two years and four months and said the visit of the president to the UAE had not resolved it.

“In fact, we are not happy that the president even came without addressing the citizens in that country to encourage us. The issue is about the trapped fund, the trapped fund is the number one priority; it is not the issue of Nigerians committing crimes.

“Do you know how many Indians are misbehaving? Egyptians, Bangladeshi, some even raped, have they banned them? I can tell you that the UAE security is tight, if you commit a crime, you would be fished out. You cannot hide if you commit a crime,” she added.

Also, another Nigerian in UAE identified as Prince Ijitola stated that 90 percent of Nigerians have lost their jobs in UAE.

 “Companies are no longer recruiting Nigerians in UAE due to the ban and most Nigerians in UAE are working class, we have families to feed back home. If you had ignored our request, how do we feed our families? How do you reduce the level of crime in our dear country, how do you reduce the level of corruption in our dear country?

“We are using this medium to plead to the Nigerian government, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to please use his good office to look into the matter with the UAE and give a positive bilateral agreement.

“The question everybody is asking is: where is Emirates’ Airlines’ fund trapped? Who held the money? It is the government. Please, pay the Emirates the trapped fund and let everything go successively so that we, Nigerians, can be happy once again in the UAE.”

Another Nigerian in UAE, identified as Citizen Oluwatosin, said, “People are getting their dream jobs with global companies here, but the companies can’t give them a visa.

“The situation is getting worse on a daily basis, things are getting worse for Nigerians here. People are losing jobs daily and more Nigerians are being told by their employers to stop at a future date if the situation continues.

“Nigerians are some of the most talented expats here and many companies are sad they couldn’t get visas for their employees who are Nigerians.”

 

FG working to resolve issue – Official  

The Federal Government said it was working to straighten the relations with the UAE and resolve the visa and work permit ban.

The spokesperson of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abdulrahman Balogun, said Nigerians could not compel the UAE to lift the ban on visa and work permit, saying the issues raised were being looked into through the diplomatic channels.

He said, “It is not the NIDCOM’s mandate to secure work permits and visas for the citizens. Work permit or visa ban has to do with consular domiciled in the foreign affairs.

“The Foreign Affairs that I know is doing its job but Nigerians in the UAE, because of their own personal issues, they believe the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not doing enough.

“The Foreign Affairs Ministry is meeting with the UAE officials and there is a lot of MoU they would sign.”

 

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