By Eric Elezuo
Following the effort to rescue Nigerian football fans stranded in Russia after the just concluded FIFA World Cup, the President of National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), Bankole Bernard, has said NANTA has nothing to do with the stranded fellows as they have failed to disclose the travel agency(s) that took them to Russia, thereby, making it difficult for the association to act accordingly.
Speaking exclusively to The Boss via telephone, Bernard stressed that the inability of those stranded to mention the agency(s) that took them to Russia in the first place has some how absorbed the association of blame, thereby incapable of taking any step towards retrieving them from Russia. This also, he stated, has made it difficult to locate the erring agency or agencies (if any) in the fraud.
However, he also confirmed that the Lagos state government has stepped on board to ensure they are brought back to Nigeria, saying he has made contact with the Lagos State government.
“I’ve been in touch with the honourable Commissioner for Arts and Tourism, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, and he assured me that the His Excellency, the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode’s directive as regards repatriating the citizens is receiving urgent attention.
“Meanwhile, NANTA has nothing to do with the stranded people as up till now, they have not been able to mention the particular travel agency that facilitated their movement to Russia, and subsequently abandoned them.”
He declared that a possible explanation could be that those people patrionised quacks in the industry, unregistered practitioners, and used the opportunity to call on both members of NANTA and their clients to embrace the ID card innovation so that it would be easy to track an erring member.
He revealed that if at the end of the day, any member of NANTA was involved in what many termed as a national disgrace, the said member will be ‘delisted, de-licensed and blacklisted’.
As the matter escalated and became a national disaster, the President, Muhammadu Buahri, also ordered the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama and the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika to commence the process of repatriating the Nigerians who travelled to Russia for the 2018 FIFA World Cup but got stranded after the competition.
The football fans got stranded in the country following the alleged activities of some unscrupulous travel agents who cancelled their return tickets and abandoned them to their fate.
The presidential aide observed that already the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Aviation had in compliance with the President’s directive taken the necessary actions to bring the Nigerians back.
And as at today, 155 out of the 233 stranded passengers have arrived Abuja.