Sarafa Ishola, Nigeria’s high commissioner to the United Kingdom (UK), has described the travel restrictions imposed on the country as “apartheid”.
Following the discovery of the Omicron COVID-19 variant by South Africa, a number of countries in Europe banned travel from countries in Africa.
On Saturday, the UK announced that it would add Nigeria to the list of countries on its red list as a result of Omicron COVID cases linked to the country.
The ban, which is effective from Monday (today), means only UK residents or citizens of the UK can enter the UK from Nigeria.
Speaking on a BBC radio programme on Monday, Isola said the ban on Nigeria is “travel apartheid”.
The high commissioner said what is expected of the UK is a global approach and not a selective measure, adding that most Omicron cases in Nigeria came from elsewhere through travellers.
“The reaction in Nigeria is that of travel apartheid. Because Nigeria actually aligned with the position of the United Nations secretary-general that the travel ban is apartheid in the sense that we are dealing with an endemic situation, we are dealing with a pandemic situation and what is expected is a global approach, not selective,” he said.
Ishola said Omicron “is classified as a mild variant, no hospitalisation, no deaths, so the issue is quite different from the Delta variant”.
He added that the best way to tackle the issue should be collaborative.
“That’s why we in Nigeria believe that we are dealing with a pandemic.
Whenever we have a challenge there must be collaboration,” he said.