TWELVE Nigerians stranded in Ivory Coast have paid a whopping N7m ($18,000) for a special chartered flight to transport them from Abidjan to Abuja to enable them return home after being stranded abroad for about a week.
In Ivory Coast, the coronavirus pandemic has had a very limited effect, with just 2,231 people affected and there being just a total of 29 deaths. This is way less than the figures in Nigeria where a total of 6,677 have been affected and there have been 200 deaths so far.
Despite this, the 12 Nigerians, said to be businessmen who ended up being trapped in Abidjan, have coughed up the huge sum to enable them return home. One senior official informed said that the Nigerian Mission in Ivory Coast gave the 12 businessmen approval to secure the aircraft at their own expense.
He added: “12 businessmen stranded in Côte d’Ivoire are desperate to return home. They contacted the Nigerian Mission and were asked to make their own travel arrangements, so they decided to come by charter flight.
“They have agreed to pay N7m for the charter flight but they are waiting for the ministries of foreign affairs and aviation to sort out the landing rights and other clearance issues. A man in Sierra Leone, who is suffering from acute typhoid and was anxious to return to home for treatment, is also willing to pay N1m for a seat on the flight.”
Over the last few weeks, thousands of Nigerians have been returning home from abroad as the government stepped up the evacuation of its nationals worldwide. Earlier this week, 292 Nigerians who arrived from Saudi Arabia took up the remaining bed spaces at the various isolation centres in Abuja.
These latest arrivals had brought the number of evacuees in quarantine to 912. For now, the Nigerian government will not be able to repatriate more of its citizens in foreign countries until those in quarantine have completed their 14-day isolation period.
There are also indications that the Nigerian government was negotiating with Malaysia for the evacuation of its citizens in that country. Air Peace is expected to fly 150 Malaysians stranded in Nigeria back home but the Malaysian government is insisting on a Malaysian carrier which had allegedly pegged its tickets at about $2,500 against the $1,500 charged by Air Peace.