The Most Rev. Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, yesterday joined the chorus of Nigerians protesting the United Kingdom’s (UK) inclusion of Nigeria on its COVID-19 red list without justification, calling it “travel apartheid” and calling for it to be removed.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, @JustinWelby, encouraged the UK government to eliminate the “morally incorrect and self-defeating” red list in a series of tweets on his Twitter handle.
The United Nations Secretary General recently condemned the UK government’s actions as “travel Apartheid” directed at poor countries.
The Nigerian Senate yesterday declared the travel ban discriminatory and an attack on diplomatic relations between the two countries, and demanded that it be lifted.
As a result, the Red Chamber in plenary requested that the British authorities consider removing Nigeria from the red list.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) verified three further omicron cases in Nigeria yesterday.
The UK government has also informed Nigeria about seven cases of infection among Nigerian travelers, according to the center.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has threatened to ban any airline flying international flights from Nigeria if it does not follow the country’s COVID-19 passenger protocols, as issued by the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC).
Nigeria was added to the UK’s red list for foreign travel on Monday, making it the 11th country to do so. Currently, all of the countries on that list are African.
Only UK or Irish nationals or UK residents are permitted to enter the UK from these countries. For a total of ten days, they would have to pay for and self-isolate at a pre-booked government-approved hotel.
“With #Omicron set to become the dominant variant in the UK, I ask to the British government to remove Nigeria and South Africa from the red list – along with all other countries now on it,” the Archbishop wrote in a message to his 165,000 Twitter followers.
“For those who have been vaccinated and tested to enter the UK, we must develop fair and effective approaches.” I agree with the Nigerian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom that “travel apartheid” is unacceptable.
“As ArchbishopThabo of Cape Town has stated, it is also morally wrong — and self-defeating – to essentially penalise other nations for being transparent when they discover new Covid variations.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that blanket travel bans will not limit the spread of the variation and may deter governments from reporting and sharing vital coronavirus data.
Welby has previously criticized the red-list additions of Nigeria, Botswana, and South Africa, claiming that these were “countries currently suffering that will suffer even more.”
Nigeria should be removed from the Red List, according to the Senate.
In addition, the Senate recommended the UK government to consider the bilateral diplomatic relationship when making decisions that affect Nigerian individuals.
It encouraged the federal government to work with British officials to have Nigeria removed from the red list.
The administration was also instructed by the upper chamber to be steadfast in enforcing required measures in the containment of all COVID-19 variants in Nigeria.
It also urged developing countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States of America, and the European Union, to adopt immediate and decisive measures to secure vaccination fairness in the interest of the entire human species.
The Senate passed the resolutions after debating a motion moved by Senator Ike Ekweremadu, the former Deputy Senate President, on the “Need for the Government of the United Kingdom to Remove Nigeria from the COVID-19 Red List” (Enugu West).
Ekweremadu welcomed with satisfaction the efforts of the Nigerian government in the containment and treatment of COVID-19 cases, citing Senate Rules 42 and 52.
“Nigeria is among the countries with the lowest cases of COVID-19,” he says.
“The British government’s decision to add Nigeria to the COVID-19 list, and the consequences that follow, would affect many Nigerians who had intended to spend their Christmas and New Year holidays with their family.”
“I’m also concerned that Nigerians who have a legitimate need to visit the UK within this time frame would be denied visas, and those who already have visas will be denied entry.”
Prior to the embargo, Nigerians had routinely followed all COVID-19 rules mandated by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UK Government for passengers, according to the leading Senator.
“Targeting African countries, particularly under the COVID-19 travel ban,” he said, “amounts to profiling and prejudice, as well as an attack on our warm diplomatic relationship with the United Kingdom.”
Ekweremadu called parliamentarians’ attention to global concerns about vaccine hoarding and injustice, as well as the ramifications for low-income countries in the fight against COVID-19.
Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, said the decision to place Nigeria on the UK COVID-19 red list had put a strain on the diplomatic relationship between the two countries, while also criticizing the UK government’s treatment of Nigeria.
As a result, he has asked the British Parliament to act in order to have Nigeria removed on the COVID-19 red list.
“Let there be justification for it,” Lawan added. We are not suggesting that any country, including Nigeria, cannot be placed on the red list, but there must be compelling reasons for doing so.
“Of course, Nigeria has done so well in the field of COVID-19 containment, earning the praise of many countries.” As a result, we don’t understand why Nigeria should be on the so-called “red list.”
“I believe the British government owes Nigerians a better treatment. I’m taking use of this chance to request that the British Parliament put pressure on the British government to remove Nigeria from the so-called “red list.”
Meanwhile, following a debate on the UK’s decision to impose a temporary visa ban on Nigerians following the finding of the omicron variant, members of the House of Representatives were sharply divided yesterday.
While some members of the House of Representatives thought the UK government’s decision against Nigerians was harsh and racist, others thought it was a wake-up call for the government and those in power to reform the country, particularly in the health and education sectors.
While the debate on the temporary visa ban was given greater time by the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Idris Wase, who presided over the plenary, the debate on the death of a student at Dowen College in Lagos was not given the same priority.
The Minority Leader, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, who moved the motion, said the UK government’s decision came just days after Canada extended its travel ban to anybody who had just visited Nigeria.
He claimed that while the prohibition was just for Nigerians traveling to the UK, it did not exempt over 8,000 Nigerians who had purchased air tickets to visit Nigeria during the holiday season, claiming that the restriction would prevent them from returning to the UK after the holidays.
Rather than working with its Commonwealth ally to battle and curtail the spread of this new variety, the UK government decided to outright ban Nigerian tourists from entering the nation, according to Elumelu.
This, he said, was in stark contrast to the US government’s response, which required travelers to show proof of a negative test result at the point of departure as well as a day two test result after arriving in their nation, a move that drew widespread praise.
The lawmaker also expressed concern that the UK government chose to announce the ban without discussing the data in its possession with the Nigerian government, instead giving the Nigerian authorities an hour’s notice before putting the country on the red list, which is contrary to international convention.
According to Elumelu, the Omicron form has now been discovered in over 40 nations throughout the world, including many in the European Union, however the UK government has only banned Nigeria and a few African countries.
The minority leader emphasized that if the Nigerian government does not engage the UK authorities as soon as possible, the decision could have a significant impact on businesses and travelers seeking to conduct lawful transactions in the UK, as opportunities and investments already made would be lost, necessitating the need for a quick interface.
Elumelu noted that children who attend school abroad and had planned to return home during the holiday season to see their families, but were afraid that if they did, they would be subjected to a 10-day mandatory isolation center and forced to pay £2,700 for hotel bookings, they would be completely discouraged from returning, denying such families the opportunity to see their children for this annual family reunion.
Hon. Aminu Suleiman, who spoke at the event, stated that the country needed to conduct internal assessments.
He claimed that Nigeria had already admitted to possessing an omicron variant, and that there was no reason to condemn another sovereign country for doing so because it was within its rights.
Hon. Nicholas Ossai, for his part, said the issue raised by the minority leader was relevant, and that a meeting with the British government to discuss the situation diplomatically was required.
In his statement, Hon. Nnonli Nnaji stated that while he supported the motion, the message from the UK government’s action was for Nigerians to fix their country.
Hon. Onofiok Luke, for his part, stressed the importance of introspection and working together with the leadership to ensure that the correct things are done.
He stated that rather than criticizing other countries, the country needed to be fixed and everything made to operate.
Three new cases of Omicron Variant have been confirmed by the NCDC.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has issued a statement.
In Nigeria, three new instances of COVID-19 with the B.1.1.529 SARS-CoV-2 lineage, the omicron variation, have been confirmed.
According to a statement signed by NCDC Director General Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa, the NCDC was prioritizing the sequencing of COVID-19 positive samples in passengers with a history of travel to the UK due to reports of an increase in omicron cases in the UK.
With the addition of the three new cases, Nigeria now has a total of six omicron variants.
On December 20, 2021, the NCDC announced the discovery of three instances of omicron variant.
Adetifa added in the statement that all omicron instances found so far in Nigeria were in people who had recently traveled to South Africa in November.
“The UK government has also alerted the federal government of Nigeria through the NCDC of seven instances of travellers from Nigeria with the Omicron strain, in accordance with Article 44 of the International Health Regulations 2005 (IHR) reporting system.”
“Given indications of an increase in Omicron cases in the UK,” the NCDC said, “the NCDC is also prioritizing the sequencing of COVID-19 positive samples in travellers with a history of travel to the UK.”
The NCDC said it would continue to coordinate genomic surveillance actions across the country through the National Reference Laboratory (NRL) to sequence all positive COVID-19 samples from international travelers arriving in Nigeria.
The NCDC stated, “This covers sequencing of positive samples from international travelers from October 2021 to date.”
The Centre, on the other hand, claims that the Delta form has stayed dominant over the new omicron variant.
There was also no indication of generalized or communal transmission of this variation in Nigeria, according to the report.
The Centre stated that it would continue to execute effective public health measures such as mask use, physical separation, hand cleanliness, and defaulters, including the publication of their information and the suspension of their passports, to safeguard the safety of all Nigerians.
In addition, the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID19 urged incoming travelers to ensure that their day two and day seven tests are completed on day five, in accordance with the travel guidelines supplied by the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID19.
“The NCDC and the Federal Ministry of Health urge members of the public to continue to COVID-19 (PSC-COVID-19) is required for all international travelers arriving in Nigeria, and the PSC-COVID-19 places a travel ban on Nigeria.
International Airlines are being threatened with a ban by the NCAA.
The NCAA has threatened to expel any airline flying international flights from Nigeria if it does not follow COVID-19 passenger safety rules mandated by the PSC.
It stated that any airline that fails to comply with the boarding rules will be fined $3,500 per passenger, and that airlines that frequently fail to comply with these requirements may be barred from entering Nigeria.
The aviation regulatory authority insisted that airlines adopt the updated quarantine protocol for passengers coming in or departing Nigeria. Passengers must also follow the PSC’s amended provisional quarantine protocol, which was updated on COVID-19.
As a result, the NCAA instructed all airline operators to inform passengers of the amended provisional quarantine protocol.
“Airlines are to notice that protocols for international flight operations issued on 1st July 2021 still exist,” it said in a statement dated December 3, 2021, addressed to airline accountable managers and country managers.
In the case of inbound travelers, the NCAA recommended that airlines should only board passengers traveling to Nigeria who have a paid permit to fly with a QR code and the result of a negative COVID-19 PCR test performed within 48 hours after boarding the flight.
“Airlines are to send an email to designated email addresses for essential assistance for any inbound passenger who is unable to either make payment for his/her repeat PCR test(s) or produce a paid permit to travel via the Nigerian international Travel Portal (NIPT),” it added.
The NCAA Director General, Captain Musa Nuhu, also stated that for outbound flights, airlines must only board passengers who have proof of either full COVID-19 vaccination or the result of a negative COVID-19 PCR test performed at NCDC accredited private laboratories not later than 48 hours from the time of boarding.
Nigeria can only take retaliatory action as a last resort, according to the NIIA.
In a similar event, Prof. Eghosa Osaghae, Director General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), said yesterday that Nigeria should not react unless all other options have been exhausted.
Osaghae, speaking on ARISE Television’s broadcast arm in response to requests from certain Nigerians to ban UK people from the country in the same way, said that retaliation would not be necessary until all other options for a peaceful resolution had been exhausted.
“By the way, if you’ve tried all other options for resolving disagreements or conflicts of this nature, you know that if none of them work, you can always resort to reciprocity.”
“I’m sure you know that this isn’t beyond settlement, and as the chair of our response team, the secretary to the federation’s government mentioned yesterday that there are behind-the-scenes conversations going on, and we hope that this issue will be handled,” he said.
Osaghae expressed his hope that the situation does not worsen in the coming days, claiming that the British response had been excessively harsh and unfair.
“At the last count, 47 countries had recorded occurrences of Omicron, the variation, with only approximately six in Africa.” And the travel restrictions do not apply to all 47 nations; just the Southern African countries and Nigeria are affected.
“However, data suggests that this (virus) isn’t exclusive to Africa.” It isn’t only limited to Nigeria. Nigeria isn’t a source in and of itself. It is not a creator. The fact that it was discovered does not imply that South Africa is the owner, he added.