Yusuf Bello| The federal government does not have the resources to evacuate every Nigerian willing to return to the country following the coronavirus pandemic, Geoffrey Onyeama, minister of foreign affairs, has said.
Onyema who made the disclosure at the daily briefing of the presidential task force on COVID-19 in Abuja on Wednesday, said it is regretful that the government is unable to bring back all those willing to return.
According to him, the priority for now is to bring back some students stuck in Khartoum, Sudan who the government had to “bend over backwards” to put in place a plan to evacuate.
Onyema said, “The financial aspect of this is one that we are very mindful of. We have some students who are stuck in Khartoum in Sudan, we have to bend over backwards because they are our young children to find the resources to pay for their return and also pay for their two-week isolation but unfortunately for all the others, we just don’t have the financial resources.”
“As you can see, the huge amounts of money we have to pay for the challenge, so unfortunately, it is a source of great regret for the government that we are not in a position to pay – we will be more than happy to pay for everyone free of charge, to pay for their stay in isolation centre for two weeks but the reality is that we don’t just – and that’s the situation for now.”
According to him, there are not enough facilities for Nigerians willing to come back home.
He said, “We took medical advice and we asked the medical people what was possible and the figure we were given was 200 in Lagos and 200 in Abuja.”
“This is much less than the numbers waiting to come back. We are just constrained by the facilities that are available.
“Unfortunately, we have internal challenges, as you can see the figures are going up all the time and we have a great responsibility to show that these facilities are also there to deal with the immediate challenges.”