The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama has explained why subsequent Nigerians to be evacuated home from abroad will have to pay for their isolation accommodation and feeding within the period.
Onyeama said the government would have loved to pick the bills but for paucity of funds.
There are well over 4,000 stranded Nigerians abroad awaiting evacuation following the global lockdown occasioned by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Returnees have been asked to pay about N297,000 apart from their flight tickets for their hotel accommodation for the period of isolation/quarantine on arriving the country.
In the last one week, the country had evacuated 678 Nigerians from United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States. These sets of returnees are under the care of the Federal Government.
He said the government was not happy that subsequent returnees would have to pay for their 14 days compulsory isolation and feeding within that period.
He said: “This gives me the opportunity to really communicate to you the challenges we are having with respect to evacuees.
“There has been quite a lot in social media, especially after the recent directives that we communicated to our missions indicating certain amount of money that anybody who wanted to be evacuated back to the country needed to pay.
“And it was not just for air ticket, but also accommodation for two weeks and two days and the cost of feeding.
“Now this is not by any stretch of imagination something that the government is happy to do.
“As I mentioned time and time again, if the resources were there, we will evacuate everybody, and if our medical infrastructure was solid and case load was much lower, we could look at other ways of revisiting our protocol.
“But they way things are at the moment, the fragility of our health infrastructure, the trajectory of the increasing numbers of positive test being what they are, we have to take the greatest care with regards to the protocol we adopt regarding to people coming home.
“So it has been decided after long discussion and evaluation by the best medical minds that we have that it is best for us, for the interest of the country, that there should be a period of quarantine when any of our evacuees comes home, that has a cost too.