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CBN, NNPC to Fund Accommodation, Feeding of Evacuees

Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) have agreed to pick the hotel accommodation and feeding bills of returning stranded Nigerians abroad.

The cost is to cater for the remaining over 3,000 Nigerians stranded in several countries as a result of global lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking yesterday at the briefing, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, disclosed that both agencies agreed to pick the bills for the isolation of the Nigerians stranded abroad on their return.

He said the government was not too happy with the idea of returnees picking their bills but for the paucity of funds.

According to him, all efforts to raise funds have been very difficult.

He said the fund used for the funding of the first set of evacuees was a fund meant for something else.

He explained his predicament: "So, Friday night after getting all the barrage from around the world, including people saying that we were somehow conspiring with hotels to fleece Nigerians and make money for ourselves and other forms of accusation and we continued never the less; we tried to find a way through and they say that two heads are better than one; the Honorable Minister of Environment, Dr. Mahmoud Abubakar, called me and said why not try NNPC? Why not try CBN. You know they have a corporate social responsibility funding and I told him I will do that immediately.

"I got in touch with Governor of the CBN and used as much persuasive channel as possible to get him over and told him I will do the same with GMD of NNPC. And the Governor of the CBN, very generously and very kindly, agreed and said the amount that I was talking about was over N1 billion because we have over 4,000 Nigerians out there, and if over 3,000 or something of them come back the cost of accommodation and feeding and everything else is over a billion that we don't have.

"He said he was ready to explore and share the cost with NNPC. I spoke to the GMD of NNPC and he said he was going to consult and we kept our fingers crossed.

"Thanks be to God, today he got back to me to say he was ready. He was going to meet up with the Governor of the CBN and together they would fund this portion – a very important portion – the accommodation and feeding of evacuees. So, we go forward in a better environment."

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