Members of the house of representatives say the recent ban imposed by the United Kingdom (UK) on Nigeria over the Omicron COVID variant is a wake-up call to fix the country.
The lawmakers spoke during plenary session on Tuesday while contributing to a motion of urgent public importance sponsored by Ndudi Elumelu, minority leader of the house, on the need to intervene in the suspension of issuance of visitor visas to Nigerians by the UK.
UK had put the country on its red list after detecting cases of the Omicron variant reportedly linked to Nigeria.
The development has elicited criticism from the federal government, while the senate described it as an “attack on our diplomatic relationship“.
Speaking on the floor of the house, Nnaji Nwaedozie, a lawmaker from Enugu, said the ban is an indication that all is not right in Nigeria.
“We also need to understand that this thing is a wake-up call for Nigeria. It is not just about the UK; all over the world they are trying to block us. They are trying to tell us to go to hell, to go and fix our country,” he said.
“The problem we have is that we are not fixing this country and that is why we are having all these problems. At some point, we had issues with Ghana, they blocked us. At some point, we had issues with South Africa, they blocked us. Just last year, we had an issue with UAE, they blocked us; even our darling UK has now blocked us.
It is not about racism; it is about telling us to go and fix our country. We have to sit down and fix our education, fix our health so that we don’t have a lot of people travelling out for medical check-up and educational support. In all sense, I believe that we should sit and find a way to solve our problem so that we won’t be getting this kind of insult from other countries.”
Also speaking, Onofiok Luke from Akwa Ibom, said Nigerians need to shun ethnicity, as well as religious or political affiliations, and focus on developing the country.
“Our greater concern is the need for introspection. If we had built our country to be the giant of Africa, where we all join hands with the leadership to make sure that the right things are done, the right facilities are being put in place and we make sure that there a right assessment for any indices whether in the healthcare or education or even in tourism that leads our people to go en mass into other countries, I believe that we will not be much bothered with these challenges that we are faced with today,” he said.
“Wheresoever we are, wheresoever we come from, we have to rise in unison to support the leadership of this country. This is the time for us to fix our country.
If there is any time that we must do the right thing and fix our country so that we avoid this embarrassment before us, the time is now. While we are blaming others, let us look inwards and fix ourselves.”
In his contribution, Garba Muhammad, a lawmaker from Kaduna, called for the review of Nigeria’s membership of the Commonwealth, adding that the UK has “always been treating Nigerians with maximum contempt”.
“We have been in the Commonwealth, I don’t know the benefit we derive as members of the Commonwealth. In support of this motion, let us review our membership of the commonwealth,” he said.