Otedola hails Tinubu for resolving UAE visa ban, flights’ suspension

Femi Otedola, the Nigerian billionaire businessman, has hailed President Bola Tinubu.

Otedola, yesterday hailed President Bola Tinubu for resolving the travel row between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The UAE slammed a visa ban on Nigerians and  withdrew   Etihad and Emirates airlines from flying in and out of the country in October last year.

On Monday, Tinubu brokered a truce during his stopover in Abu Dhabi and  had talks with UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The meeting of the two leaders resulted in the lifting of the visa ban on Nigerians and the announcement of immediate resumption of flights between both countries.

In a statement yesterday, Otedola, who is Chairman of  Geregu Power Plc, lauded Tinubu for resolving the long standoff in relations between both countries which went sour under the past administration.

The billionaire businessman also expressed optimism that Nigeria would regain its pride of place among the comity of nations.

Otedola, a Director, FBN Holdings Plc, said: “We must all commend Mr. President for his shrewd diplomacy to finally resolve this matter inherited from the last administration.

“Only a leader who understands the importance of business would appreciate the enormous opportunities to be derived from restoring business relations between both countries.”

He also hailed the President for his bold policies aimed at repositioning the economy since he took  over the saddle on May 29.

Otedola said: “It must be pointed out that his bold policies since assuming office, are the hallmark of a true leader who is not afraid or shy to take actions as long as such actions are in the national interest.

“Without a doubt, the current hardship will ease once these policies begin to bear fruits. I firmly believe the right measures are being taken and we are headed in the right direction.”

The businessman promised to invest more in the local economy following the restoration of confidence in the management of the national economy.

He added: “Asiwaju Tinubu is working, Nigeria will work. I advise my fellow countrymen and women to be patient.

“With Tinubu’s policies, Nigeria will fully recover in a few years. We are witnessing the storm before the calm. Now, the storm is blowing away. I am certain, very soon, we’ll begin to experience the inevitable calm and the progress that will naturally follow in a very short while.”

He identified potential transformation of the stock exchange as one of the understated benefits of the policies so far introduced by the Tinubu administration.

Otedola said: “Middle Eastern investors remain one of the most liquid across the globe and it has been a shame that outside of a few investments in Dangote Cement and Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, Nigeria has not been able to attract capital from those regions.”

He pointed out that ordinary Nigerians who previously wanted to travel to the UAE for business and leisure would benefit from the resolution of the crisis.

Tourists from Nigeria, he noted, now have wider choices to make, stressing the need to appreciate Tinubu for the quality of leadership and courage he has demonstrated since May 29.

He said: “Indeed, Asiwaju has demonstrated leadership and the difference in his style of leadership is like night and day.

“Tinubu is leading from the front and his economic diplomacy, which we pray he sustains, is going to drastically change the image of the country, unlock foreign investments into the country and improve Nigeria’s perception internationally.

“We must all join hands to support this administration and we must all start seeing things beyond our differences.

“Nigeria badly needs foreign exchange and this move by the President will help improve forex inflows into the country. It is worthy of commendation.”

The agreement reached by Tinubu and his UAE counterpart was announced in a statement by presidential spokesman Ajuri  Ngelale.

He explained that as negotiated between Tinubu and the UAE leader, there would be an immediate restoration of flights  through the two airlines and between the two countries.

But, the agreement did not involve any immediate payment by the Nigerian government.

According to him, in recognition of Tinubu’s economic development diplomacy drive, a framework was established to facilitate the inflow of several billions of United States dollars in new investments into the local  economy.

He listed defence, agriculture and  other sectors as the areas to benefit in such investments.

Ngelale said his boss successfully negotiated a joint, new foreign exchange (forex) liquidity programme between the two governments, details of which would be announced in the coming weeks.

Last December, Emirates Airlines suspended flights into Nigeria over inability to repatriate blocked funds, estimated at $85 million.

The Emirates Airlines had on December 13, 2021, suspended its operations to Nigeria in reaction to the Federal Government’s withdrawal of its flight frequencies, to Nigeria.

The UAE was the first to reduce Air Peace’s request for three times-weekly flights to one and claimed it did not have enough slots for the airline.

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