From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
The National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity) has described as “racially motivated” travel restrictions clamped on Nigeria and other African countries by authorities of the United Kingdom and Canada over the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
The NAS Capoon, Mr Abiola Owoaje in a statement titled: ”COVID-19 Omicron: The gang-up against Africa” said the pattern of travel restrictions is “neither informed by science nor justified by sound clinical and epidemiological principles.”
Owoaje who noted that the swiftness in the expansion of travel restrictions goes against the recommendations of the World Health Organisation (WHO) said ”it has given rise to valid suspicion that these inconsiderate reactions are driven by base considerations of bare-faced prejudice”.
While picking holes in the travel restrictions, he pointed out that the UK’s decision to leave out European countries where Omicron had been detected even before Africa “leaves very little room to doubt the growing conviction that they are racially motivated.”
Owoaje said that the vilification of African countries for raising the red flag on the Omicron variant of COVID-19 puts a question mark on the sincerity of western countries in the global efforts to tackle the pandemic.
The statement reads in part: “The misguided hysteria being displayed by western nations against African countries since the outbreak of the Omicron variant inadvertently clouds their sincerity in the global coalition against COVID-19. It gives them away as colluders in the worsening scenario of vaccine inequality threatening global action against the pandemic. Vaccines are allowed to go to waste in Europe and other advanced countries where they have been oversupplied, while African countries are supplied meagre quantities even after placing orders and showing genuine payment commitment. Enacting policies that shut Africa from the rest of the world, not accepting tests from African countries demonstrate nothing but stereotyping and racism.
“These discriminatory regulations, shocking in their total disregard of the rules of international engagement, are likely to undermine the genuine worldwide collaboration that is required to contain this pandemic as well as the trust that is needed to maintain public health alliances for the protection of our world in the future.
“We commend the governments of Nigeria and South Africa to be the forefront of a robust and commensurate response by African countries to this clear case of systematic and undiplomatic discrimination from Western nations.
It is urgently necessary for western governments to work hard to drain the reservoirs of ignorance and prejudice that these ill-judged actions stem from if the genuine progress made in international collaboration against COVID-19 is not to be jeopardised.”