Coronavirus: Nigerian students in China accuse FG of ‘abandoning them’

Some Nigerian students in Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in China have accused the Federal Government of abandoning them.

The city has gone into lockdown three weeks ago leading to the evacuation of many international students by their government.

Speaking to CNN, one of the students Victor Vincent who is studying at the China University of Geosciences, lamented their plight as they watch other students leave.

Vincent is one of around 50 Nigerian students living in Wuhan who say they’ve been abandoned by the Nigerian government as their repeated pleas for evacuation and medical supplies have been largely ignored by government officials.

The students say they, along with over a dozen other Nigerian teachers and businesspeople living in Hubei province, have repeatedly written and called Nigerian government officials requesting assistance. But they say very little has been forthcoming in return.

With the virus death toll now topping 1,000, several countries — including the United States, the UK and Japan — are working to evacuate their citizens from Wuhan. Nigeria is yet to take such a step.

Vincent, who is an executive of the Nigerian Students in Wuhan Association, said the group had asked the government for evacuation and medical supplies, such as masks, goggles, gloves and disinfectant.

There was a glimmer of hope last Thursday when Vincent, who is also the student association’s financial secretary, received a grant of 20,000 Chinese yuan ($2,870) from the Nigerian ambassador to China.

The money was provided to “assist us in procuring foodstuffs and medical supplies,” Vincent said.

But he added:

“Other than that, the situation remains the same. We still have no clear indication on when we are getting evacuation, where we will be quarantined or even if that will happen at all.

“As each day passes, the chances of evacuation slip by,” said the student who has been studying in Wuhan since September 2018. “It’s the total lack of support and sense of abandonment by your country.”

CNN reached out to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and to the Nigerian embassy in Beijing, but has not received a response.

Meanwhile, chairperson of the official Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, told CNN:

“This will be handled by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He has to give further instructions in this regard. This is strictly a country-to-country matter. He has to take the decision.”

It will be recalled that members of the House of Representatives last Tuesday rejected a motion calling for the evacuation of Nigerians in Wuhan over fears of contacting the deadly coronavirus, saying China has better health facilities to tackle the menace than Nigeria.

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