President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has stepped in to address the ongoing visa ban imposed on Nigerians by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), signaling a potential end to the travel restriction.
This marks the first time President Tinubu has addressed the issue, which has led to the suspension of flights from Nigeria by UAE’s national carrier, Emirates.
The UAE authorities initiated the visa ban in October 2022, shortly after Emirates suspended its flights to Nigeria. This move caused disruptions in travel plans and diplomatic relations between the two countries.
The suspension of flights and visa issuance led to a reciprocal response from Nigerian carrier Air Peace, which also suspended its flights to Dubai. This reciprocal measure aligned with the UAE’s decision to cease granting visas to Nigerian travelers.
President Tinubu received Salem Saeed Al-Shamsi, the UAE Ambassador to Nigeria, at the State House on Thursday. During the meeting, the President conveyed his directive to swiftly resolve the issues affecting the relationship between the two countries, including matters concerning Emirates Airline and the issuance of visas to Nigerian citizens.
President Tinubu’s involvement in the matter raises hopes for a resolution to the visa ban, potentially restoring normalcy to travel between Nigeria and the UAE. As diplomatic discussions continue, stakeholders await further updates on the progress of these negotiations.
“We are a family with the UAE, we only live in separate rooms, but we are in the same house. We should look at the issues as a family problem, and resolve it amicably. As you know in every family, there are peculiarities. You can have an erring son, or daughter, but we must work together. We need to agree on core aviation and immigration issues,” the President stated.
The Ambassador of UAE said he already sees himself as a “Nigerian’’ considering the historical antecedents of the country, its long-standing leadership role in Africa, and its reputation for hospitality to strangers.
“Since I arrived in the country, I have been working on 24 agreements. We are getting somewhere. These are small issues, all within a family, and they will be resolved. I am grateful to be here in Nigeria. I am also very grateful to meet His Excellency, President Tinubu, who is a great leader in Nigeria, and Africa. Please accept me as a Nigerian and consider me a member of your team,” he appealed.