The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) have agreed to pick the hotel accommodation and feeding bills of returning stranded Nigerians abroad, the Federal Government has declared.
The cost, about N1 billion, is to cater for the remaining over 3,000 Nigerians stranded in several countries as a result of global lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Federal government had advised those wishing to be evacuated to part with N297,000 to cover the 14- day mandatory isolation for returnees from abroad.
The idea was heavily criticised, which led the minister to approach the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and Group Managing Director of NNPC. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, stated this on Monday night that after much persuasion, both agencies agreed to pick the bills for the isolation of the remaining stranded Nigerians abroad on their return.
He said the government was not too happy with the idea of returnees picking their bills but for the paucity of fund.
According to him, all efforts to raise fund have been very difficult but a ministerial counterpart advised him to approach the head of the two agencies.
He said the fund used for the funding of the first sets of evacuees was fund meant for something else.
Onyeama said: ” So, Friday night after getting all the barrage from around the world including saying that we were somehow conspiring with hotels to fleece Nigerians and make money for ourselves and other form of accusation and we continued, never-the-less, we tried to find a way through and they say that two heads are better than one, the honorable Minister of Environment, Dr. Mahmoud Abubakar called me and said why not try NNPC? Why not try CBN. You know they have corporate social responsibility as per funding and I told him I will do that immediately.
” I got in touch with Governor of the CBN and used as much persuasive channel as possible to get him over and told him I will do the same with GMD of NNPC and the Governor of the CBN, very generously and very kindly, agreed and said the amount that I was talking about was over N1 billion because we have over 4,000 Nigerians out there, and if over 3,000 or something of them come back the cost of accommodation and feeding and everything else is over a billion that we don’t have.
“He said he was ready to explore and share the cost with NNPC . I spoke to the GMD of NNPC and he said he was going to consult and we kept our fingers crossed.
“Thanks be to God, today he got back to me to say he was ready. he was going to meet up with the Governor of the CBN and together they would fund this portion. A very very important portion, the accommodation and feeding of evacuees. So we go forward in a better environment.”