From Vincent Ikuomola, Abuja
Succour has come the way of Nigerians stranded abroad as a result of Coronavirus, but who are desirous of returning home.
They will no longer have to bear the expenses of their two-week quarantine as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) have offered to foot the bills
The bills, estimated to be about N1billion will cover the hotel accommodation and feeding for 3,000 out of the 4,000 people being expected.
They were trapped in various countries across the world as a result of global lockdown occasioned by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Federal government last week said it would no longer pay for their stay in isolation due to cash crunch.
Already, returnees from United Arab Emirates (UAE), the United States and the United Kingdom are in the country at government expense.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama, who broke the news during the PTF daily briefing in Abuja on Monday, explained that the apex bank and the NNPC agreed to pick the bills as part of their corporate responsibility roles.
Onyeama said the government was not comfortable asking would-be returnees to pick their bills but for the paucity of funds.
He said the fund used for the isolation of those that had returned was meant for something else.
The minister said: “Last Friday night after getting all the barrage from around the world, including the allegation that we were conspiring with hotels to fleece Nigerians and other forms of accusations, we tried to find a way out of it.
“Minister of Environment, Dr. Mahmoud Abubakar, called me and suggested that we approach the NNPC and the CBN. He reminded me that the two organizations had corporate social responsibility funds.
“I got in touch with the Governor of the CBN (Godwin Emefiele) and the GMD of the NNPC (Mele Kyari). I thank them generously for agreeing to spend over N1 billion because we have over 4,000 Nigerians out there.
If over 3,000 come back, the cost of accommodation, feeding and other things is over a billion that we don’t have.
“But thank God the governor of the CBN and the GMD agreed to fund the accommodation and feeding of the would-be evacuees.”