…Group tells president, ministers to sit up
The government of Muhammadu Buhari has kept mum despite the harrowing experiences of Nigerians living in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Some Nigerians told The ICIR that many of their fellow countrymen were losing their jobs and living in the streets due to the discrimination and work permit issuance/renewal restrictions by the UAE.
“My friend just lost his job because his work permit was not renewed due to flimsy excuses by the UAE immigration and authorities,” one of the Nigerians in the UAE said.
Another resident who did not give her name said she was considering coming back to Nigeria because her stay in the country was no longer valid.
“Many Nigerians, including myself, are frustrated because of work permit restrictions here. The Embassy keeps telling us that there is nothing they can do, so the best thing is to go home. But the question we all ask is, which home are we going back to?”
The on-going rift between the governments of Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has taken a new dimension as the Arab country bars Nigerians from applying for work permits and placed visa restrictions on them.
Apart from restrictions on flights from and to Nigeria, the UAE is arbitrarily restricting visas from Nigerians without any official communication, Nigerian officials in the country said.
In a statement released on Wednesday, a group known as Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation United Arab Emirates (NIDO-UAE) said hundreds of Nigerians in the UAE were utterly frustrated with no hope, due to the work permit issuance/renewal restrictions and were now taking to the streets.
“It is important to clear the air that the horrible predicaments of Nigerians in the UAE is not only masterminded by the criminal activities of few Nigerians living in the UAE, but unconcerned, languid and insentient behaviour of Nigeria Government to swallow their pride and align with the UAE Government for the interest of her citizens.
“Nigerians in the UAE deserve to be protected by their government. We stand in the provision of Nigeria constitution and United Nations to say, we are entitled to be protected and care for as citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Till now we have not seen any workable negotiations going on between Nigeria Government and the UAE.”
Travellers have been left stranded since March 17 as flights between both countries remain suspended over dispute relating to COVID-19 testing. The ICIR reported that the rift took a different dimension in July when the Arab country barred Nigerians from applying for work permits and placed visa restrictions on them.
Although the UAE confirmed that work permits were being regulated in view of precautionary and preventive measures for COVID-19, Nigerians in the country suspect the restriction on issuance/renewal of work permits to Nigerians is a revocation of existing labour ties between the two countries.
“His Excellency, President Mohammedu Buhari had earlier alerted Nigerian youths, that there are no job vacancies from local to Federal level to employ the youths. Many took alternatives to the UAE in search for jobs, which we have easy access to the country, but only to be caught up with this chaotic situation. No doubt, UAE has given thousands of Nigerians jobs and it is imperative and recommendable for Nigeria to tighten their labour ties to help utilize our youths,” the group said.
“We therefore appeal and plead with loyalty and solemnly to the Federal Government to see with reasons, take up the power tussle for the sake of her citizens ends means; send delegates to the UAE to rescue her citizens languishing and end this long impasse; strengthen labour ties and other bilateral relations, as further delay could pose more threats when more youths, keeps being frustrated, with idle mind and joblessness,” it further said.
Many resident visa holders, whose visas expired after the UAE put in place a suspension on inbound travellers from several countries, including Nigeria, have been granted the automatic visa renewal for three months, including the one-month grace period for reapplication.
However, at the moment, this automatic extension has only been awarded to Dubai residency visa holders, and the status of residents in other emirates is not immediately clear.
The NIDO-UAE has urged the Nigerian government to send a delegation to investigate the situation and make conscious efforts to strengthen its relations with the Arab nation, as other countries are already doing in the interest of their citizens.
Last week, the parliament of Ghana ratified the Memorandum of Understanding on mutual exemption of entry visa requirements between Ghana and the UAE, and the country is in the process of complementing requirements for its implementation. With this MoU, Ghana passport holders will soon be able to travel visa-free to the UAE.
“Nigerians are suffering in the UAE and there is no pretense about that. The situation is beyond Embassy liaison mediation; this is because the constant reasons anchored by UAE Government to justify their restrictions are unclear, fuzzy, blur, doubtful and the Embassy can’t do beyond their limits.
“We call on Federal Government to rationally look deep on both, economic, security effects, conceal the power tussles for the sake of her citizens they are representing and set up a delegation to the UAE to resolve these issues before more frustrated citizens will join the streets and turnout to be criminals tomorrow, which will continue to dent the image and reputation of our dear Nation,” the statement further said.
Director of the Nigerian in Diaspora Organisation (UAE) Fernando Judel had told The ICIR that the restriction was an internal arrangement limited only to the ministry, and Nigerians seeking to apply for work permit renewals were barred from doing so.
“If you want to apply, you would see a display in the dialogue box that it is restricted to this nationality being Nigeria. So the person cannot even apply at all, let alone the ministry receiving the application and rejecting it,” Judel told this newspaper, adding that “we have been having issues like that and the issue always comes when our people indulge in a profile crime.”
However, a Nigerian engineer who works in a construction company in the UAE said there were many decent countrymen contributing positively to the economy of the Arab country.
“There are crimes by Nigerians, yes, but here every crime committed by blacks are assumed to have been committed by Nigerians. All of us are not thieves, we are decent people.”