On Monday, Mr Sirika said there were no grounds for the UAE to threaten Nigeria with the visa ban despite Nigeria failing to repatriate $700 million trapped funds of foreign airlines.
“If you disagree, you are supposed to come to us, and we sit down, and we negotiate and give you what we have in the hope that we finish paying. What I have a problem with are the threats,” said Mr Sirika said on Monday.
“Every country would threaten Nigeria that they would not fly to Nigeria again, that would not give Nigeria visa. They would not do operations; they would shut Lagos and Abuja. Please, countries have been shut completely, and they did well.”
The Nigerian aviation minister stressed that “there are examples” in Asia, the Middle East and Europe.
“We are not afraid to be shut. It would make us do much better. It would make our schools and hospitals do better because necessity is the mother of invention,” Mr Sirika added.
He stated this during a meeting of the House of Representatives discussing the $700 million trapped funds of foreign airlines operating in the country.
“We would begin to go to our own hospitals and our schools. When you stop coming to Nigeria, it does not make any sense. We are not threatened,” he insisted. “When you begin Nigeria, a 200 million market which you need, you do not have a case. And I have a problem with that. I have been doing everything to ensure this is paid. But you can only give what you have.”
Recently, the UAE slammed a visa ban on Nigeria and 19 other African countries.
“This is to inform you that we will not be posting 30 days visa applications for these nationalities effective today, October 18, 2022,” the notice said.
Countries affected by the visa ban include Ghana, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Cameroon, Nigeria, Liberia, Burundi, Republic of Guinea, Gambia, Togo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal, Benin, Ivory Coast, Congo, Rwanda, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, Comoros and the Dominican Republic.
Recall that the UAE had begun rejecting valid visa holders and barring others from entering.
In June, a top official at the International Air Transport Association revealed that Nigeria had been withholding $450 million revenue of international carriers operating in the country.
According to the IATA, $1 billion in income belonging to foreign airlines is being withheld across Africa, with Nigeria accounting for the highest amount of airline funds on the continent.