By Andrew Onyejuruuwa
As Nigeria gradually heads towards a lockdown as a result of the Coronavirus (COVIC-19) pandemic, Air France Flight AF0986 came into the country on Thursday and successfully evacuated 260 European citizens from Nigeria. The airline also evacuated additional 118 European citizens from other West African countries. The mop up of French and other European citizens from Nigeria was through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos State.
On the other hand, the British High Commission, we hear is also working on plans to send its staff, dependents and other Britons in Nigeria to the United Kingdom. The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) disclosed that the Air France flight landed in Lagos through Benin Republic with 118 passengers on board at 3 p.m. local time to pick up 260 passengers from Lagos and the plane took off to Paris at about 3.44 pm local time.
The aircraft, we gathered was a Boeing 777-328 (ER) series with registration number F-GZNP. The aircraft was able to land despite the closure of Nigeria airspace to international flights because Nigerian government granted Air France – KLM one-week permission to evacuate European citizens from Nigeria.
Reacting to the development, Mr. Ihechukwu Ibeji, public analyst and former banker described it as heartwarming that European countries go all out to take care of their citizens in great time of need. He told our correspondent that, “That is what we call leadership. With the deafening news about what COVID-19 is doing in different countries of the world, the Nigerian government never bothered about the fate of Nigerians in those heavily affected countries.
“I sincerely commend the French government and indeed all governments across the globe that cater for their citizens in times of need. That is why people from other countries especially the developed world are patriots. The government in Nigeria are indifferent to the plight of Nigerians both at home and in the diaspora. Sometimes one is tempted to think that it is actually difficult and sad at the same time to be a Nigerian.”