The Federal Government has stated that it has begun engagements with the Ethiopian Government over the controversial subject of a recent visa ban on Nigeria, in order to seek a reversal of the new policy.
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika who made this known during the weekly briefing of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, noted however, that the ban does not in anyway affect the agreement by the two nations on Nigeria Air.
Recall the Ethiopian government recently temporarily suspended visa on arrival for Nigerians and citizens of over 42 other nations with immediate effect.
The East African country said passengers are to book their visa at the Ethiopian Embassy in Abuja or apply online and get a confirmation via the website before embarking on any trip to the country.
The embassy however note that passengers transiting overnight in Addis Ababa are not affected by the ban.
“Passengers having layover in Addis to travel the next morning to Zanzibar, Seychelles, Lusaka, Lilongwe, Harare, Cape Town, etc are not affected and do not need transit visa for their trips.”
Responding to a question on what the government was doing to address the issue and if it will not affect the partnership with Nigeria Air, Sirika said: “I don’t think this is restricted to or applied to Nigeria alone on the decision to do visa on arrival from all the information we got, it affects many countries as well.
“We have contacted Nigeria Immigration Service and also Ministry of Foreign Affairs to deal with this. It has nothing to do with the relationship between Nigeria and Ethiopian airlines.
“Well, Nigeria Air is fully private sector led initiative. And the Ethiopian they are even though 100% owned by government, they have been running on their own as if it were a private company. And perhaps even with COVID, I’m not speaking for them. They did wonderfully well, they posted a billion dollar profit.
“In the past, what concerns us really with them is that there is a policy which is not done by the airline, but policy of their government, that once you have $3,000 or above and you have not declared at the point of entry, they seized it from Nigerians. And we pushed that case, struggling with them for two years. So what Ethiopian airline did which is nobel, and I which I think is should be commended, is that right there in the terminal building. They built within the two years we were negotiating a superclass hotel, four star hotel, where people that are on transit don’t need to go into town. So you don’t need to go to customs to declare your money or get your money ceased. So you remain within the hotel and board your next flight, even if it is 72 hours ahead. So that has solved that problem.
“This particular one, I think, is initiative by their own ministry of interior and foreign affairs, they applied it on other countries, it is not unique to Nigeria. But that said, it came to notice and we spoke to our own Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Service to deal with it, and the embassy as well. And I’m sure that Nigeria is one of the markets the cherish well, so they must look into the policy.”
The council also approved the ratification of International Labour Organisation Convention 181 which seeks to permit operation of private employment agencies and ensure the protection and right of people are fully respected as well as the adoption of revised national policy on labour migration which seeks to protect the dignity of migrants workers in the country.