President Muhammadu Buhari’s regime does not care about the mistreatment Nigerians suffer in the hands of foreign countries like the UAE that arbitrarily revoke their visas and cancel visa applications without refund, says aviation minister Hadi Sirika.
On Monday, Mr Sirika said there were no grounds for the UAE to threaten Nigeria with the visa ban despite Nigeria failing to repatriate $700 million trapped funds of foreign airlines.
“If you disagree, you are supposed to come to us, and we sit down, and we negotiate and give you what we have in the hope that we finish paying. What I have a problem with are the threats,” said Mr Sirika said on Monday. “Every country would threaten Nigeria that they would not fly to Nigeria again, that would not give Nigeria visa. They would not do operations; they would shut Lagos and Abuja. Please, countries have been shut completely, and they did well.”
The Nigerian aviation minister stressed that “there are examples” in Asia, the Middle East and Europe.
“We are not afraid to be shut. It would make us do much better. It would make our schools and hospitals do better because necessity is the mother of invention,” Mr Sirika added.
He stated this during a meeting of the House of Representatives discussing the $700 million trapped funds of foreign airlines operating in the country.
“We would begin to go to our own hospitals and our schools. When you stop coming to Nigeria, it does not make any sense. We are not threatened,” he insisted. “When you begin Nigeria, a 200 million market which you need, you do not have a case. And I have a problem with that. I have been doing everything to ensure this is paid. But you can only give what you have.”
Recently, the UAE slammed a visa ban on Nigeria and 19 other African countries.