By John Okeke
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) are collaborating with the Presidential Task Force (PTF)on the Containment of the Covid-19 to raise about N1 billion to assist in subsequent evacuation of Nigerians stranded in different parts of the world following the Coronavirus pandemic.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said this during the daily briefing of the PTF in Abuja on Monday.
He stressed that the intervention of the CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele and the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mele Kyari, was timely considering the constraints of funding, which had earlier compelled the ministry to impose certain costs on the prospective evacuees for their accommodation and feeding.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had come under severe criticisms following the imposition of accommodation and feeding cost on the prospective evacuees and perhaps was compelled to seek alternative source of funding to accommodate and feed about 4,000 Nigerians that have indicated interest to return home.
“I got in touch with the Governor of the CBN and the GMD NNPC. The CBN Governor very generously, very kindly agreed. The amount that I was talking about over a billion naira is needed because we have over 4, 000 Nigerians out there and even if 3,000 of them come back, the cost of accommodation, feeding and everything we don’t have it.
“So, the CBN and NNPC agreed to share the cost. I spoke with the GMD of the NNPC and he said he is going to consult and thanks be to God today he got back to me that he was going to meet with the Governor of the CBN and together they will fund this very important portion -accommodation and feeding the evacuees,” Onyeama said.
The Minister also said that Nigerians willing to return from India will be conveyed home by a Nigerian air carrier even as he expressed gratitude to the Emefiele and Kyari for the intervention adding that the evacuees will now enjoy a better environment.
Nigeria has so far evacuated over 600 Nigerians from United Arab Emirates (UAE), United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (US). However, more Nigerians are still waiting for evacuation in countries such as South Africa, India, France, Libya, China and many others.