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Editorial

Nigeria’s Progressive Isolation In The Global Arena: The Dubai Standoff, By Osita Chidoka

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The current travel ban disregards available scientific and anecdotal data. Again Nigeria is not responding appropriately with data and robust media campaigns.

If there is one area this government is failing significantly, apart from its clueless handling of the economy and security, it is in its international communication and responsiveness to Nigerians.

It started with the introduction of discriminatory covid test policy by Dubai authorities, and Nigeria rightly responded by banning Emirates early this year. To date no clear communication on the issues and why Nigeria answered as it did. We gained no international mileage or citizen support for that imbroglio.

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The government’s poor handling of that Dubai debacle must have partly informed the decision of Canada, Britain, Saudi Arabia and Argentina to impose an ill-considered ban on travels from Nigeria, knowing that there would be no consequences or intense international media backlash. Nigeria has not shown any such capacity.

The current travel ban disregards available scientific and anecdotal data. Again Nigeria is not responding appropriately with data and robust media campaigns.

Two days ago, Emirates airline announced the cancellation of flights to Nigeria following Nigeria’s reciprocal withdrawal of Landing slots in reaction to UAE’s decision to grant Airpeace one slot against request for three slots. The Dubai authorities, in total disrespect for Nigeria due to our declining global image and standing, further directed other Airlines against flying Nigerians to Dubai. Ethiopian Airlines carried out the order today.

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As we speak, there is no communication to Nigerians stranded around the world waiting to fly Emirates or transit through Dubai for Christmas. No helpline to call. No social media information about refunds or alternative options.

The Ministry of Aviation website and Facebook page are posting about ICAO meeting in Colombia. The Ministry of Information Facebook latest post is about President Buhari condoling with US Tornado victims.

This government’s love of Nigeria without the love of Nigerians is legendary. Its public diplomacy and global engagement strategy is pedestrian, to put it mildly. In contrast, recall how the government of Qatar used international broadcasting and social media to push back at UAE and other Gulf countries during the embargo days. They controlled the narrative and came out of the crisis stronger and globally respected.

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Save for knee jerk retaliation, what is Nigeria’s strategy against rising isolation and declining global prestige? What should be our response to Dubai’s provocative actions even days after a Presidential visit? The response so far lacked strategic and tactical planning. Issues management and coordination appears to be lacking among government agencies. Foreign Affairs seems not to be in charge of leading our international engagement.

At this rate, this government will be remembered for banning Twitter, placing Nigeria in an isolation mode and its total disregard for the plight of Nigerians in distress globally. If you add the insecurity situation at home and dire economic straits, the lethal nature of this corrosive cocktail can only be imagined.

We need a leadership that inspires hope, cares about Nigerians, and strategically engages the world again.

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