Abiodun OBA

The Upper Chamber of the National Assembly has called on the British authorities to remove Nigeria from its COVID-19 red list due to the new variant of the disease, Omicron.

The lawmakers also advised the UK government to be sensitive to the diplomatic relations between both countries when making decisions that affect Nigerian citizens.

This is as it urged the Federal Government to engage the British authorities to reverse Nigeria’s inclusion on the red list; as it further encouraged the administration to remain firm in the enforcement of necessary protocols in the containment of every COVID-19 variant in Nigeria.

Leading the debate, Sponsor of the motion on the “Need for Government of the United Kingdom to remove Nigeria from COVID-19 Red List,” Senator Ike Ekweremadu (PDP, Enugu West) called on major Covid-19 vaccines producing countries (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.

Coming under orders 42 and 52 of the Senate Rules, Ekweremadu noted with satisfaction the efforts of the Government of Nigeria in the containment and treatment of COVID-19 cases.

“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 a visa and those with visa will not be allowed to enter the U.K.”

He noted that Nigerians have consistently complied with all the COVID-19 protocols required by the World Health Organization (WHO) and U.K Government for travellers prior to the ban.

He also emphasised 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.

Ekweremadu drew the attention of the senate to global concerns over vaccine hoarding and inequity and the resulting consequences on low-income nations in the fight against COVID-19.

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, said that the decision to include Nigeria on the UK COVID-19 red list poses a strain on the diplomatic relations between both countries.

He decried 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.

“Let there be justification for it, we are not saying that they cannot put any country on the red list, including Nigeria, but there must be reasons for doing that.

“And of course, Nigeria has done so well to the admiration of many countries in the area of containment of COVID-19.

“Therefore, we don’t see any reason why Nigeria will be on that so-called red list. I believe that Nigerians deserve better treatment from the British government.

“I’m using this opportunity to ask the British Parliament to mount pressure on their government to remove Nigeria from the so-called red list.”

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