By Harry Awurumibe, Editor Abuja Bureau
As the strained diplomatic relationship between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) continues to get worse by the day over health and aviation issues, experts have advised the Federal Government to adopt diplomacy instead of the principle of reciprocity to resolve the issues at hand.
Speaking on the latest face-off between Nigeria and UAE over flights frequency slots for UAE’s flag carrier, Emirates Airline and a Nigerian registered airliner, Air Peace, which have led to the two countries having a fight over none respect for Bilateral Air Service Agreements (BASA), an Aviation expert and former Managing Director of Aero Contractors Captain Ado Sanusi has admonished the Nigerian government to use diplomacy to resolve the issues.
Also, Dr. Audu Sunday,
Associate Professor of Political Science, Babcock University aligned himself with Sanusi that diplomacy instead of the principle of reciprocity is best tool to adopt to resolve the diplomatic problems between the two countries.
Both spoke on Channels Television breakfast programme Sunrise Daily on Tuesday on the topic: ‘The Flights Frequency Face-off’.
According to Capt. Sanusi: “Nigeria as the matter stands now is clearly at a disadvantage position to pursue the principle of reciprocity in the stand-off with UAE over flight frequencies. This is not the time to apply that because Nigeria will lose the battle”.
The Aviation professional who was also Deputy Managing Director of Arik Air, and one time Managing Director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) also explained that it is always difficult for countries whose international airports operates at over 95% capacity to grant airlines from less endowed nations as many flight frequencies into their airports.
For Dr. Audu, the best option for the Nigerian government is to resolve the issues with UAE diplomatically, pointing out that “diplomatic solution will pay Nigeria better than to engage UAE in eyeballs to eyeballs.
“I agree with Capt. Sanusi that the principle of reciprocity will not work in favour of Nigeria hence I will suggest that the matter should be handled diplomatically”.
The diplomatic relations between Nigeria and UAE have been at its lowest ebb since the beginning of 2021 following the latter’s adoption of harsh Covid-19 testing protocols on Nigerian passengers to UAE especially in Dubai, a situation which led to the banning of Emirates Airline in Nigeria for almost 10 months.
And when the ban was lifted a fortnight ago, another problem over the allocation of flight frequencies to Emirates Airline and Air Peace ensued and the aftermath was the reduction of Emirates Airline slots from 21 to just one weekly flight after UAE aviation authorities refused to grant Air Peace more than one flight a week to UAE.
However, UAE on Monday stopped foreign airlines from airlifting Nigerians whose final destination is in the UAE especially Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Hundreds of passengers with Nigerian passports
were affected by this directive as Ethiopian Airline a few minutes ago offloaded their Nigerian passengers to Dubai.