UAE Deal Controversy: Tinubu Embarrassed, Orders Investigation

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has reportedly been embarrassed over reports of the deal to normalise relations between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Bahdstreetvibes recalls that the presidential spokesperson, Ajuri Ngelale, had earlier this week said that the UAE had lifted its visa ban on Nigerian travellers.

He said the decision was reached on Monday after Tinubu met with UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi.

Ngelale said, “By this historic agreement, both Etihad Airlines and Emirates Airlines are to immediately resume flight schedules into and out of Nigeria without any further delay.”

But the Emiratis later issued a counter-statement, which read like a disclaimer, forcing Nigeria to dial back. Diplomatic sources used the words “furious,” “deeply upset,” and “shocked” to describe the reaction that trailed the Nigerian statement in Abu Dhabi.

An official from UAE who also spoke to CNN said: “There are no changes on the Nigeria/UAE travel status so far.”

Multiple diplomatic sources told Leadership Newspaper on Friday that the unexpected delay in resolving the issue between both countries could be related to a “mis-briefing” on the broad terms of the discussions between the visiting Nigerian authorities and their Emirati counterparts.

What was characterised as resumption of flights and restoration of normal ties was clearly malicious exaggeration,” one diplomatic source said. “No such commitments were requested, discussed, or accepted.”

Another source said only the Nigerian President and the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu, attended the meeting in Qasr Al Shati, Abu Dhabi, with the President of UAE, Mohamed bin Zayed al Nahyan.

“It’s difficult to understand where the mis-briefing that led to the Nigerian report happened,” another diplomatic source said.

Maybe it’s some people in the Nigerian delegation who were anxious to make political capital out of the visit by extracting far more from it than it actually promised. Ask your people where they got their report from.”

Sources said Tinubu responded with “deep embarrassment” and has ordered an investigation into how the Nigerian statement was issued.

Sources said the UAE deal, particularly ticket revenues of about $85 million, is stuck at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and the visa restrictions over allegations of misconduct against some Nigerian applicants require delicate handling.

“Of course, UAE would like to expand bilateral relations with Nigeria, but it is unlikely that they want to do so without being sure of what they’re getting back in return,” a diplomatic source said.

You know that the entire amount outstanding to foreign airlines tied down in the CBN is about $743 million,” one aviation source said on Friday. “The other airlines are also watching to see how the Nigerian government treats the Emirate Airlines case.”

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