President Goodluck Jonathan
By Muhammad Bello
In the not too distant future Nigeria will enter into an Air Services Agreement with Trinidad and Tobago that will facilitate direct flight to and fro the two countries.
President Goodluck Jonathan, who is currently on a state visit to the Caribbean Island country disclosed this, while assuring that the vexatious issue of Nigerians being required to pay $21,000 bond as a precondition for obtaining visa to the country will be tackled diplomatically at the level of the bilateral talks between him and host Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Hon. Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
President Jonathan, who was dressed in an all-black suit Niger Delta attire with matching hat and an ornate gold chain, assured his when the Nigerian community in the country on Tuesday night, that his administration would address all challenges and ensure that existing relations between the two countries were strengthened for the benefit of their citizens.
Flanked by his wife, Patience, who was decked in a cream gold outfit with silver embellishment, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago, the President felicitated with the Nigerian community on the Island.
Responding, the Nigerian community called on President Jonathan to use his visit to settle the issue of the $21,000 bond.
“This is not only restricted to professionals, the bond are asked of Nigerians alone out of all the Africans states. We want you to ask them what Nigerians have done differently or what is it that they are not doing that such a bond should be imposed on us. Because we have the citizens of Trinidad and Tabago living in Nigeria, they are not being asked to pay for bond,” a Nigerian, who lives there demanded.
They also asked that Nigerians being held for close to three years in detention camp over immigration issues should either be deported or tried.
Earlier, the Nigerian High Commission to Trinidad and Tobago, Musa Jon Jen, had said about 30 Nigerian Professors were employed in the Caribbean, 400 Doctors and Nurses were working in Trinidad and Tobago and contributing positively to growth and development of the host country.
President Jonathan had arrived approximately 5.30 p.m. Tuesday at South Terminal of Piarco International Airport, about 30 minutes later than scheduled to a royal welcome, greeted by President George Maxwell Richards and his wife, Dr Jean Ramjohn-Richards; Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar; and almost all of her Cabinet, many of them in African wear; Chief Justice Ivor Archie; House Speaker Wade Mark; Senate President Timothy Hamel-Smith; High Commissioner of Nigeria to Trinidad and Tobago, Musa John Jen; and other members of the diplomatic corps and other officials.
President Jonathan, who is in the country for a two-day State visit and to attend Emancipation Day celebrations, had his arrival announced with a flourish and a 21-gun mortar salute by the Defence Force guard of honour. He also inspected the guard of honour.
The President, his wife and the Nigerian delegation were later taken into the airport for a 20-minute cultural show featuring the National Steel Symphony Orchestra and the Susan Mohip Dance Company.