- Tackle Lai Mohammed over comments
BY VICTOR OSOWOCHI – Some concerned Nigerians in China are demanding more commitment from the Federal Government to address the plight of Nigerians residing in Wuhan, the Chinese city currently under lockdown due to the deadly corona virus outbreak.
They have also questioned the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed over his comments that only 16 Nigerians are in the affected city and have not shown any interest to return home following the eruption of this virus.
Insisting that whatever steps being taken by Nigeria in the circumstance leave much to be desired, they easily picked holes in the Minister’s comments that the federal government cannot force the citizens to come back home or ban anyone from traveling to China.
Acting under the umbrella of Nigerians in Diaspora, East China, the group said the figure given by the Minister is grossly under estimated because there are about 50 Nigerians in Wuhan, including women and children.
The group, which has already put a Committee of friends in place as a rapid response team to mobilize material and financial aid for Nigerians in Wuhan, said the Nigerian Embassy in China has some explanations to make over the Minister’s claims and reports of being in touch with the affected citizens.
Speaking on condition of anonymity for obvious reasons, one of the Committee members told Forefront on Sunday that they were actually shocked by the figures released and other issues surrounding Nigerians in Wuhan.
The source said; “I can tell you that our fellow Nigerians in Wuhan are in dire straits. We are in touch with them daily. There are more than 50 Nigerians, including women and children residing there. The Embassy here and Minister Lai Mohammed should tell us where they got their figures. They should also explain the Federal government’s level of involvement in helping the citizens in distress.”
The source, who disclosed that Nigerians in East China have been pulling resources together to cater for daily needs of their compatriots in Wuhan, further said: “Why should Nigeria be doing things differently?
“Other countries are evacuating their citizens; making adequate provisions to quarantine and cater for them back home or even inside Wuhan; so let our embassy also say what it has done or is doing in that direction rather than the blanket statement and half truths presented by the Information Minister.”
“However, that will not deter us from assisting our fellow citizens with food, and other necessary items such as face masks and even funds for the purchase of prescribed drugs”, our contact volunteered
In a Media briefing in Abuja on Friday, the Minister, Lai Mohammed was quoted as saying; “Even if we have Nigerians who are there, unless they indicate interest that they want to come home, we can’t force them.
“They have, however, not indicated their interest to come home. They will, however, contact our embassy if they like to come home.
“We need a lot of public enlightenment. We need to let people who travel know that there is the need for absolute transparency and absolute honesty when they are filling out forms.”
According to agency reports, an estimated five million people have so far left China since the outbreak and continued global spread of the Coronavirus disease.
Countries which have already recorded the virus spread include: Australia, Cambodia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal and Singapore.
Others are South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, the United Kingdom, United States and Vietnam. The development has prompted the World Health Organisation (WHO) to declare it as a global emergence with the death toll in the outbreak rising to 213.
So far, almost 10,000 cases have been confirmed in mainland China.