President Bola Tinubu and President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) successfully lifted the months-long visa ban on Nigerian travellers on Monday, opening the way for the immediate resumption of flight operations by Etihad and Emirates Airlines in Nigeria.
This came after extensive discussions between the two leaders in Abu Dhabi, marking a significant diplomatic achievement. The Nigerian president expressed his commitment to resolving the longstanding issue during a meeting with the UAE Ambassador to Nigeria on August 24, 2023, stating, “We are family with the UAE; we only live in separate rooms but in the same house. We should look at the issues as a family problem and resolve them amicably.”
The UAE’s ban on nationals from several African countries, including Nigeria, was imposed in October 2022, affecting travel and trade between the nations. However, this recent development signals a turning point in the diplomatic relations between the two countries.
The president’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, confirmed the lifting of the visa ban in a statement released on Monday. Ngelale further revealed that the restoration of flight operations by Emirates and Etihad Airlines does not require any immediate payment by the Nigerian government.
In addition to the visa ban’s removal, both countries have established a comprehensive framework that includes “several billions of U.S. dollars’ worth of new investments into the Nigerian economy across multiple sectors, including defence, agriculture, and others, by the investment arms of the Government of the United Arab Emirates.” This economic collaboration is expected to strengthen bilateral ties and boost economic growth in Nigeria.
Furthermore, President Tinubu successfully negotiated a joint foreign exchange liquidity programme between the two governments, with details set to be announced in the coming weeks.
President Tinubu expressed his gratitude to President Al Nahyan for his unwavering friendship and determination to normalise and enhance relations between the two nations. After concluding his visit to Abu Dhabi, President Tinubu is expected to return to Abuja, Nigeria, as the two countries look forward to a new era of cooperation and collaboration.