Following fears expressed in certain quarters about the safety of Nigerians in China and other parts of the world and the need to evacuate them, Chairman, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Rt. Hon. Yusuf Buba Yakub has said that Nigerians everywhere abroad are not, particularly, threatened by the outbreak of the disease and, therefore, have no basis to be afraid.

Speaking to media men today at the end of plenary in his National Assembly office in Abuja, the Gombi/Hong Rep. said the House Committee on Foreign Affairs was monitoring developments on the outbreak closely and was actually in close touch with the Chinese Embassy authorities in Nigeria, who, he informed, had addressed the press on the issue and was carrying out their duties diligently.

In his words: “ it is rather unfortunate that we are having to cry louder than the bereaved on the issue of this coronavirus in China. From what we know, Nigerians in China and other parts of the world are not under any form of undue threat. Accordingly, the issue of evacuation that some people have been promoting does not arise. For us at the Committee on Foreign Affairs, it is our considered opinion that our nationals in China and other parts of Asia that have witnessed the coronavirus outbreak should stay where they are already protected, instead of exposing themselves to greater extent to any form of attack in the course of trying to return to the country”, the lawmaker said.

Hon. Buba, who observed that it was common for Nigerians to feel emotional about some of our citizens who ,they said ,have been in their apartments for sometime now and whose stocks are running out, said information at his disposal was to the effect that supplies by Chinese authorities had already commenced. He implored Nigerians at home not to be swayed by what is being spread on the social media, but to try and access information directly from officials of government, our Embassy in China and directly from relatives and wards of our citizens in that country; while adding:

“As an entrepreneur myself, I have many contacts in China and I do know that many Nigerians here have friends and members of their families who are either schooling, working or doing business in China, too. There is misinformation everywhere ,and I urge our people not to fall for this gambit by those who seek to promote tension in our country. As a Committee of the House, we are grateful to Members and the leadership of the House, who in their wisdom unanimously rejected the call by some of our colleagues that our nationals in China be evacuated back to the country because of the outbreak of the virus in question”.

Hon. Buba, who also used the occasion to correct the misrepresentation in certain sections of the Nigerian media that the Chinese Embassy in Nigeria had closed its doors to visa applicants, said the contrary was the case . He advised all intending travellers to China to collect their visas and await further directives as greater success is being recorded against the disease. He, equally, used the occasion to express the solidarity of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and, indeed, that of the entire House to the Government and people of China on the menace of the coronavirus, while expressing optimism that it will soon be a thing of the past.

Nkem Anyata-Lafia Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs to Hon. Buba. ~January 4, 2020~

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