You should have advised Atiku to sell Dubai assets in protest of UAE visa ban, Keyamo tells Osita Chidoka

Festus Keyamo

Minister of aviation and aerospace development Festus Keyamo has knocked his predecessor Osita Chidoka for criticising the planned return of Emirates Airline to Nigeria.

Keyamo recently visited the ambassador of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to Nigeria Salem Al-Shamsi and said the airline has indicated a definite date to resume flight operations to Nigerian airports.

A diplomatic row between Nigeria and the UAE forced the airline to suspend flights to Nigeria in 2022 following its inability to repatriate trapped funds. The UAE government also imposed visa ban on Nigerians.

However, in an X post on Wednesday, Chidoka asked the Bola Tinubu administration to get an apology from the UAE government before allowing the airline on Nigeria’s air space.

“The audacity of Emirates Airlines to even consider returning to Nigeria reeks of contempt and disdain towards our nation. The actions of the government of UAE and their airline, Emirates, from the unwarranted visa ban on all Nigerians to the suspension of flights, have been nothing short of a blatant attack on the dignity of Nigerians,” he wrote.

Responding, Keyamo said, “Thank you, @osita_chidoka for your opinion. However, to demonstrate your patriotism, sincerity and fidelity to the touted ‘Nigerian Pride’, the big puzzle is, why did you fail to similarly advise your boss, principal and mentor ATIKU Abubakar @atiku to immediately relocate from Dubai to Nigeria and sell off all his assets there in protest when the ban on visa and flights were announced? Hypocrisy has never been this audacious!

“Again, it is curious that, as a member of the think-tank of the PDP, your election strategy at a time (popularly dubbed ‘the Dubai Strategy’) was hatched in the same Dubai and not in Nigeria before the ban was announced. Why export a purely Nigerian project to Dubai if you loved Nigeria so much?

“For the avoidance of doubt, this Government is focused on fostering healthy relationships with major partners around the world for the ultimate benefits of Nigerians. Considering the huge investments and interests of Nigerians in the UAE, should we continue to engage in ‘Bolekaja’ (motor park) diplomacy capable of hurting the interests of Nigerians? Will the imminent return of Emirates to Nigeria and in reciprocal manner, AIRPEACE returning to operating that route, not lead to better competition which will ultimately crash the present high fares on that route? Who will benefit more? How many Emiratis visit Nigeria and invest here as much as Nigerians visit the UAE and invest there? Have you bothered to ask about the lifting of the visa ban before issuing your warped statement? For your information, that has been resolved too and the announcement is imminent.”

Keyamo said the former minister should have told Nigerians the economic disadvantages Nigeria stand to suffer, if any, as a result of the effort of the Tinubu administration to repair relations with the UAE.