Nigeria’s billionaire, the Chairman of Geregu Power Plc and Director, of FBN Holdings Plc, Mr. Femi Otedola, has hailed President Bola Tinubu for resolving the dispute between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates which led to visa ban on Nigerians and the withdrawal of both Etihad and Emirates Airlines from flying in and out of Nigeria.
The resolution of the dispute was reached following Tinubu’s visit to the President of the United Arab Emirates and the subsequent negotiation which led to the lifting of the visa ban on Nigerians and the announcement of immediate resumption of air flights.
In a statement yesterday, the billionaire hailed Tinubu for restoring the long standoff in relations between both countries which went sour under the past administration, just as he expressed optimism that Nigeria would regain its place of pride among the comity of nations.
“We must all commend Mr President for his shrewd diplomacy to finally resolve this matter. Only a leader who understands the importance of business would appreciate the enormous opportunities to be derived from restoring business relations between both countries,” Otedola said.
He also commended the President for his bold economic policies aimed at repositioning the country since he was sworn in a couple of months ago.
“It must be pointed out that his bold policies since assuming office, are the hallmark of a true leader who is not afraid or shy to take actions as long as such actions are in the national interest. Without a doubt, the current hardship will ease once these policies begin to bear fruits. I firmly believe the right measures are being taken and we are headed in the right direction,” he added.
Otedola promised to invest more of his wealth in Nigeria following the deft moves taken by Tinubu since he assumed office which have restored confidence in the management of the national economy.
“Asiwaju Tinubu is working, Nigeria will work. I advise my fellow countrymen and women to be patient.
“With Asiwaju’s policies, Nigeria will fully recover in a few years. We are witnessing the storm before the calm. Now, the storm is blowing away. I am certain, very soon, we’ll begin to experience the inevitable calm and the progress that will naturally follow in a very short while.
Otedola stated; “One of the understated benefits of this announcement is its potential ability to transform the stock exchange.
“Middle Eastern investors remain one of the most liquid across the globe and it has been a shame that outside of a few investments in Dangote Cement and Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, Nigeria has not been able to attract capital from those regions.”
Furthermore, Otedola pointed out that ordinary Nigerians who previously wanted to travel to the UAE for business and leisure would benefit from the resolution of the crisis. Tourists from Nigeria now have wider choices to make, stressing the need to appreciate Tinubu for the quality of leadership and courage he has demonstrated since May 29, 2023.
“Indeed, Asiwaju has demonstrated leadership and the difference in style is like night and day. Tinubu is leading from the front and his economic diplomacy which we pray he sustains, is going to drastically change the image of the country, unlock foreign investments into the country and improve Nigeria’s perception internationally.
“We must all join hands to support this administration and we must all start seeing things beyond our differences. Nigeria badly needs foreign exchange and this move by the President will help improve forex inflows into the country. It is worthy of commendation,” Otedola added.
Tinubu and his UAE counterpart, Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in Abu Dhabi, on Monday, sealed a historic agreement which resulted in the immediate cessation of the visa ban placed on Nigerian travellers.
Also by the agreement, both Etihad Airlines and Emirates Airlines are to immediately resume flight schedules into and out of Nigeria, without any further delay.
This was disclosed in a statement by the spokesperson of Nigeria’s president, Ajuri Ngelale.
Ngelale had explained that as negotiated between Tinubu and the UAE leader, there would be immediate restoration of flight activity through the two airlines and between the two countries. But, it does not involve any immediate payment by the Nigerian government.
According to the spokesman, in recognition of Tinubu’s economic development diplomacy drive and proposals presented by the president to his counterpart, an agreed framework was established, which would involve several billions of United States 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 UAE.
Also, Tinubu successfully negotiated a joint, new foreign exchange (forex) liquidity programme between the two governments, details of which would be announced in the coming weeks.
The UAE had in October 2023, banned nationals of some 20 African countries, including Nigeria from entering its capital city, Dubai.
Also, last December, Emirates Airlines suspended flight operations to Nigeria over its inability to repatriate blocked funds, which was then estimated at $85 million.
The sour relations between both countries had earlier seen Emirates Airlines suspending its operations in Nigeria on December 13, 2021, in reaction to Nigeria’s federal government’s withdrawal of its flight frequencies, except one, to Nigeria.
The UAE was the first to reduce Air Peace’s request for three times weekly flights to one and claimed it did not have enough slots for the airline.