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UAE, Nigeria relation work in progress – Minister

Yusuf Tuggar, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, has indicated that Nigeria’s diplomatic agreements with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) remain a dynamic work in progress.

The diplomatic tension between the UAE and Nigeria, stemming from issues related to flight allocations and travel restrictions, has persisted since 2021.

The situation escalated in October 2022 when the UAE imposed a visa ban on Nigerian citizens.

Recent developments have raised hopes of a resolution.

Presidential spokesperson Ajuri Ngelale announced that Etihad Airlines and Emirates Airlines were set to resume flight operations to and from Nigeria without further delay.

This announcement followed a meeting between prominent figures, including Tinubu and Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE president, in Abu Dhabi.

However, CNN’s report contradicted this optimism, quoting an official from the UAE who asserted that the year-long visa ban on Nigerian travellers remained in effect.

An official from the Gulf state told CNN: “There are no changes on the Nigeria/UAE travel status so far.”

Work in progress

During an interview with Arise Television, Tuggar acknowledged the complexities of visa status and the bilateral agreements between the two nations.

He emphasised that these matters were still evolving and characterised them as a collaborative effort.

Tuggar mentioned that clarifications and updates would be provided through a joint statement.

He highlighted the importance of working in partnership with the UAE to resolve the issues at hand, emphasising a positive outlook for future developments.

Ban since October 2022

In an announcement made last October, the UAE declared its decision to cease the issuance of visas to Nigerians and 19 other African nations.

No additional information or clarifications were provided regarding this decision.

This marked a sudden and unexpected halt to the previously accessible process of obtaining a 30-day tourist visa for Nigerian nationals.

Additionally, flight operations between the two countries were suspended when Emirates Airlines decided to cease its operations within Nigeria.

The primary reason cited for this suspension was the airline’s inability to access and repatriate its substantial funds, amounting to $85 million, which were held in Nigeria.

Writing by Saadatu Albashir; Editing by Daniel Adejo