Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has decried the difficult state of Nigeria’s international travel portal.
This followed his failure to obtain a COVID-19 travel permit during a recent trip from France to Nigeria.
Soyinka, who addressed reporters yesterday at Esther’s Revenge of Freedom Park in Lagos, recounted how he was to stay at the airport for three days awaiting clearance to return to Nigeria.
He said such a development should not be allowed to continue for anyone who had taken the required vaccines.
Recounting his experience about the online portal, Soyinka said he discovered that the questionnaire that precedes the process of obtaining the online permit was difficult and had left many travelers, including Nigerians, stranded at international airports.
He said: “Neighboring countries, preferably, which do not require this secret service kind of questionnaire – because that is what I considered it… There was a flight leaving Lome at 4.30…
“I said I would go and join (Sunday) Igboho wherever he is and then maybe we can come back to Nigeria together by the same way as he got out, which is why I mentioned the man in the very beginning…
“Boarding began. About 20 minutes to three minutes, I told them to make sure they get me on the right flight to Lome, carried my bags and was ready to go to Lome. In the meantime, one of the supervisors had come from the office. She was in mufti and was working the phones like mad.
“Suddenly, she broke into a sigh and smile of relief, came running to where I was with my bag and said: ‘Good news: you’ve been given special permission to re-enter your country.’ I don’t believe that I should require, or any Nigerian should require, special permission to enter his or her own country.
“So, nobody is saying don’t take precaution because the next thing they will say is Wole Soyinka says they should let everybody in at any time. Nobody is saying you shouldn’t take the necessary precaution; other nations do it.
“But I don’t believe that other nationals are just obstructed the way we are. I understand that some other Western Africa countries have similar regulations we have to go to the portal, fill this and that. But if this thing is not one hundred per cent proved,” he said.
Soyinka urged the Federal Ministries of Health and Internal Affairs to provide an alternative to resolve the system error in the portal.