Lingering Bilateral Issues: President Tinubu to meet UAE authorities during stopover in Abu Dhabi


President Bola Tinubu will meet with the leadership of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) during a technical stopover in Abu Dhabi, UAE, after the President’s departure from New Delhi, India.

According to a State House Press Release signed by Ajuri Ngelale, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, the meeting will serve as a follow-up discussion to address specific, salient issues within the bilateral relationship after conversations held during a recent visit by the UAE Ambassador to the President at the State House in Abuja.

President Tinubu at the meeting, is to address lingering bilateral issues while maximizing the opportunity of the stopover to equally advance his investment promotion objectives with high-level authorities in the public and private sectors of the United Arab Emirates, the press release revealed.

It notes: “Following a successful investment drive on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit, active participation in the G-20 Summit, and a productive stopover in the UAE, the President is expected to return to Abuja immediately following the bilateral engagement.”

The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, is also expected to depart Nigeria, tonight, to join the president and other government functionaries in UAE, in a bid to resolve the Emirates Airline flight suspension to Nigeria, visa ban and other diplomatic issues.

Recall that following the diplomatic rows between Nigeria and the UAE, the Emirates' airlines suspended its flight operations into the country and placed a visa ban on Nigerians.

In 2009, the UAE established its embassy in Nigeria. In December 2020, a memorandum of understanding was executed between Nigeria and the UAE to provide a platform for both countries to engage bilaterally.

Recall also that in February 2021, the Federal Government of Nigeria stopped the UAE national carrier, Emirates airline from subjecting Nigerian travelers to additional rapid antigen test, as against its stipulated negative PCR test at the Lagos and Abuja airports before departure.

Subsequently, Emirates airline shut down flights to and from Nigeria owing to the disagreement between the airline and the Nigerian Aviation Authorities on the propriety of subjecting passengers travelling from Nigeria to emergency COVID-19 protocols.

Flights resumed, however, after an interface between the airline and the Ministry of Aviation. But Emirates airline continued conducting test for passengers before departure from Nigeria, a development the Federal Government frowned at and suspended the airline from flying to and from Nigeria.

Following this development, there have been allegations that some legal resident Nigerians living in UAE lost their jobs on account of the refusal of the authorities to renew their work permit, which offends the letter of bilateral agreements both nations are signatories to. 

Information from the aviation ministry however has it that amidst speculations that the actions of the UAE authorities are attempts aimed at putting the Nigerian Government under pressure to accept their conditions of service for their national airline that may have lost revenue from the Nigeria route, the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development will be meeting with President Tinubu and other government functionaries at the UAE to resolve the Emirates airline flight suspension and Visa ban issues affecting Nigerians.

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