The travails of Dr. Ayokunle Akanbi, a South Africa-based medical practitioner in the hands of Nigerian officials is being referred to the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, headed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, for necessary action.
Chairman/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, gave the assurance when her attention was drawn to the ordeal of Dr. Akanbi, who gave a vivid account of his traumatising trip to Lagos with his wife in an article titled, “I Cry for My Beloved Country Nigeria.” https://globalpatriotnews.com/i-cry-for-my-beloved-country-nigeria-by-dr-ayokunle-akanbi/
In the article, Dr. Akanbi, a prominent member of the Nigerian community in South Africa, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of ARYDET Healthcare South Africa had told of how his ordeal started in South Africa where he was told, at the airport, that he and his wife had to pay N505,000 (five hundred and five thousand naira) each before boarding the aircraft on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He wrote: “We were shocked when we arrived at the check-in counter and were advised by the airline that there’s a new directive from Nigeria to pay an additional N505,000 (five hundred and five thousand naira) per passenger before boarding. This, according to them, was because South Africa has been red flagged as a COVID 19 hotspot ….I later realised on arrival in Lagos that some (passengers) were able to board without payment (of the N505, 000) probably through the back door; if you know what I mean.”
He recounted how, after paying the fee and getting to Lagos, they were treated shabbily by Immigration and other officials who, apparently wanted to be bribed before they could do their jobs. He had to seek the intervention of a senior official before they could get some attention.
He continued: “On arrival in Nigeria; our passports were taken away from us and we were made to wait indefinitely…..It was after five hours of waiting, when my patience ran out that I demanded to see the head of port health, Dr Abdulai. I explained our ordeal to him and he immediately went to discuss with the controller of immigration. At this point, we were told a permission has been granted for us to go back on the condition that we present our boarding passes for boarding. This was after all the available flights for the day had left.”
When Dr. Akanbi and his wife could not return to South Africa from the Airport as they had wanted, they were taken to the government approved Isolation Center, Lagos Airport Hotel, Ikeja. Dr. Akanbi lamented further the sorry state of the Hotel, where they were made to spend the night before cutting short their trip and literally running back to South Africa.
“On arrival at the Lagos airport hotel….we were disappointed and despondent at the reality that confronted us. There was a hand washing sink basin at the entrance without any soap. The rooms were so dirty, the bed linen were very old with a terrible stench, the hand washing basin in the room was not functional, there was no shower but we were given a bucket to wash with. The rooms were mosquito infested!…. The attendants at the facility were not wearing their face masks properly and some not at all. This is a recipe to super-spread the COVID 19 virus. We were told we were not allowed outside of our rooms. I really began to wonder who are those behind the formulation of these guidelines which are not in sync with international practices and protocols.”
Reacting to Dr. Akanbi’s account, Hon. Dabiri-Erewa said that these COVID times are unusual times. She said further that Dr. Akanbi should have reached out to them at NiDCOM for their intervention, but assured that the attention of the PTF on COVID-19 would be drawn to the matter.
Also reacting, President of the Nigerian Doctors’ Forum South Africa (NDF-SA), Dr Emeka Ugwu, angrily demanded that the entire saga must be properly investigated and amicably resolved, stressing that the Forum would take up the case with the NiDCOM CEO and other relevant government officials.
According to Dr. Ugwu, “Dr Akanbi, who is a prominent member of the Nigerian Doctors’ Forum South Africa (NDF-SA)” intimated him (Dr. Ugwu) “about his ordeal, on his return back to South Africa.
“We are taking up the matter with the office of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, and other relevant persons in the Nigerian government.” He insisted that “the issue has to be properly investigated, and amicably resolved, so that other members of our organisation, and, indeed, other Nigerians, should not go through similar harrowing experiences.”
He noted that their action would serve to ensure that not only their members or Nigerians in South Africa will be saved such sordid treatment in future, but all other Nigerians in diaspora. “We all look forward to going home, and should not be subjected to terrible experiences on our own soil, when we visit,” he said.
In another development, GPNews gathered that the regulations are already in the process of being reviewed on the recommendations of some Doctors to the PTF. What is not clear is whether action will also be taken concerning the officials at the nation’s gateways (the airports especially) who fleece travelers under the guise of enforcing COVID-19 regulations.
Also, it is yet to be ascertained if the condition of the Lagos Airport Hotel, the approved Isolation Center and the conduct and disposition of the staff of the institution would be equally reviewed.