NIGERIANS residing in the United Arab Emirates have issued a passionate appeal to the government to restore its friendly diplomatic relations with Nigeria, as the effects of a massive job loss bite harder on members of the community.
Over 300 Nigerians have lost their jobs in the UAE between July and September after the government placed a restriction on work permit issuance and renewal for Nigerians, citing precautionary measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 virus.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation United Arab Emirates (NIDO-UAE) said: “The United Arab Emirates is our second home and we acknowledge the hospitalities and opportunities given to us… we are indebted and grateful.
“We solemnly appeal (to the UAE Government) to temper justice with mercy, forgive our trespasses, listen to our plights and restore to normalcy the friendly relations with Nigeria government and citizens.”
Director of NIDO-UAE Fernando Judel told The ICIR that at least 301 Nigerians legitimately working in the country had lost their jobs since July, according to data he collated after the Ministry of Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) blocked the work permit application portal for Nigerian nationals.
“We are yet to know the precautionary and preventive measures and why it is specific to Nigerian nationality,” Judel said.
Last month, the UAE Ambassador to Nigeria Fahad .A. Taffaq, during a meeting with chairman of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) at his office in Abuja, denied there was any restriction placed on Nigerians.
“There has been no official restriction on Nigerians from what I believe as an official position from the UAE. The UAE is a very welcoming country and does not discriminate against any nationality. Everyone is welcome to come, work, and contribute,” he said.
The diplomat said his country was proud of the huge number of Nigerian nationals going to the UAE for medical tourism, education, and employment, adding that some elite Nigerian professionals held good positions in the UAE – in medicine, engineering, and the education sectors.
Despite this official position put forward by the UAE, the reality on the ground is that many Nigerians in the country are unable to work and are now stranded. Some others who were newly offered employment said that their offer letters had been revoked.
Although the Nigerian Mission in the UAE is said to be engaging with the UAE authorities on the work restrictions, there is no telling how soon this issue, which has lingered over two months, will be resolved.