Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and the Senate on Tuesday rejected the banning of visitors from Nigeria by the United Kingdom and Canada, describing the move as discriminatory and unfair.
They have asked British and Canadian authorities to consider removing Nigeria from the red list.
Canada and the United Kingdom hastily included Nigeria among the omicron present countries which must stay away from their shores following the discovery on December 1, 2021.
However, in a statement signed by Governor Kayode Fayemi, Chairman, NGF, the group notified the World Health Organisation (WHO) of the arbitrary stigmatization that is caused by the recent banning of countries from visitation-based on omicron spread.
“NGF wishes to draw the attention of the World Health Organisation (WHO) to the arbitrary stigmatization that is caused by the recent banning of countries from visitation based on omicron spread”, stated the NGF chairman.
“Omicron still remains relatively unknown globally as it is not yet clear whether it is more transmissible from person to person compared to other variants including Delta.
“It is very discouraging to note that there are several countries that have reported cases of omicron similar to or higher than Nigeria’s, that have not been banned from entry to the UK and/Canada.
“Confirmed Omicron cases as at December 3rd, across some countries are Nigeria (3); Australia (7); Brazil (3); Germany (9) Israel (4); Italy (9) and The Netherlands (16). There is also no evidence that harsh, blanket travel bans will protect the countries that impose them.
“It is ironical that this ban comes at a time when the DG of the WHO, Tedros Ghebreyesus, has advised that ‘rational proportional risk reduction measures’ be taken by countries such as screening passengers prior to departure and/or upon arrival in a country, or enforcing a quarantine period.
“The NGF, therefore, urges the WHO to intervene in this matter by setting uniform standards that are acceptable to all for banning countries across the globe.
“As we know, vaccine hesitancy is quite high and for many reasons including disruptive announcements like this which could exacerbate distrust of the vaccine and heighten hesitancy.
“World leaders and stakeholders in the West need to remember that with the COVID-19 pandemic until everyone is free, no one is free. Variants will continue to appear and spread across the globe as long as global herd immunity has not been achieved.”
Senate Says Travel Ban Discriminatory, Attack On Diplomatic Relations
Similarly, the Senate has condemned the United Kingdom’s inclusion of Nigeria in their COVID-19 red list without justification.
The chamber, accordingly, called on the British authorities to consider removing Nigeria from the red list.
It advised the UK government to be sensitive to the diplomatic relationship between both countries when making decisions that affect Nigerian citizens.
The Senate urged the Federal Government to engage the British authorities to reverse Nigeria’s inclusion on the red list.
It also charged the administration to remain firm in the enforcement of necessary protocols in the containment of every COVID-19 variant in Nigeria.
It further called on major vaccines powers, namely Britain, Canada, America, and the European Union, among others, to take urgent and bold steps to ensure vaccine equity in the interest of the entire human race.
These were resolutions reached by the chamber following the consideration of a motion on the ‘Need for Government of the United Kingdom to remove Nigeria from COVID-19 Red List’.
The motion was sponsored by Senator Ike Ekweremadu (Enugu West).
Coming under order 42 and 52 of the Senate Rules, Ekweremadu noted with satisfaction the efforts of the government in the containment and treatment of COVID-19 cases.
He said, “Nigeria is among the countries with the lowest cases of COVID-19.”
“The decision by the British government to include Nigeria in their COVID-19 list, with its concomitant implications, will affect many citizens of Nigeria, who had planned to spend their Christmas and New Year holiday with their families.
“Also worried that Nigerians with genuine needs to visit the U.K within this period will be denied visa and those with visa will not be allowed to enter the U.K.”
The lawmaker noted that Nigerians have consistently complied with all the COVID-19 protocols required by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and U.K government for travelers prior to the ban.
He emphasized that “targeting African countries, especially in the COVID-19 travel ban, amounts to profiling and discrimination as well as an attack on our cordial diplomatic relationship with the U.K.”
In his remarks, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, said that the decision to include Nigeria on the UK COVID-19 red list poses a strain on the diplomatic relationship between both countries.
He bemoaned the poor treatment of Nigeria by the UK government.
Lawan, therefore, called on the British Parliament to intervene with a view to having Nigeria removed from the country’s COVID-19 red list.
By Chidi Ugwu and Kingsley Benneth,