News / Africa

Nigeria Vows to Protect Upcoming Economic Forum

Air Commodore Charles Otegbade (3rd L), director of search and rescue operations, looks at the wreckage after a bomb blast at Nyayan bus terminal in Abuja, April 14, 2014.
Air Commodore Charles Otegbade (3rd L), director of search and rescue operations, looks at the wreckage after a bomb blast at Nyayan bus terminal in Abuja, April 14, 2014.
Reuters
Nigeria pledged on Tuesday to deploy more than 6,000 police and soldiers to protect a World Economic Forum on Africa in Abuja next month, a day after a bomb attack by suspected Islamist militants on the capital's outskirts killed dozens.
 
African heads of state and business leaders are due to attend the May 7-9 WEF event - based on the flagship gatherings in Davos, Switzerland - where Nigeria's government wants to showcase the top oil producer's newly acquired status as the largest economy on the continent.
 
Monday's bombing at a crowded bus station killed 71 people, the deadliest ever attack on Abuja, and has raised questions about the government's ability to protect the capital from Boko Haram's bloody insurgency that risks spreading from the Islamist group's heartland in the northeast.
 
Ahead of elections in February, President Goodluck Jonathan is under intense pressure to contain the five-year insurrection.
 
Boko Haram says it wants to carve an Islamic state out of a country split between Muslims living largely in the north and Christians mostly in the south, and its fighters have shown that they can strike further south and in the central zone.
 
Local businesswoman Dorothy Ajunobi, referring to accusations that some politicians are manipulating the violence to try to damage their enemies and serve their own narrow interests, said, “If government can protect adequately participants to a forum, they should be able to protect Nigerian citizens or otherwise it will now be clear this insecurity in Nigeria is political.”
 
Calling Monday's attack a “suspected act of terrorism”, Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said security agencies were “currently in the middle of a robust and thorough investigation to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice”.
 
“Our security planning for the World Economic Forum on Africa is already well under way and will be the largest security operation ever mounted in this country for an international summit,” she said in a statement to participants seen by Reuters, noting security personnel would secure an area  of 250 square kms (100 square miles) around the event.
 
The note assuring participants they would be safe was also signed by Nwanze Okidegbe, Jonathan's chief economic adviser.
 
Last year's World Economic Forum on Africa was held in Cape Town, South Africa, which Nigeria overtook as Africa's largest economy this month through a rebasing exercise that expanded its GDP to nearly $510 billion in 2013.
 
'Protect us first'
 
Angry Abuja residents questioned why the government should give priority to ensuring no harm came to high-profile visitors while it was failing to guarantee daily security for Nigerians.
 
“They should protect us first and people will be attracted to come to Nigeria,” Ajayi Ademola, a computer operator in a local business center, told Reuters.
 
Some of the foreign WEF participants might choose to stay away anyway after Monday's bombing, Ademola said.
 
Boko Haram
Visiting the scene of the bombing at Nyanya on Monday, Jonathan implored Nigerians to be more vigilant and called the threat from Boko Haram “temporary”.
 
But, despite a state of emergency declared last year in the northeastern states and a muscular offensive involving thousands of troops backed by aircraft, Nigeria's military has failed to quell the revolt.
 
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, a northern politician who defected to Nigeria's main opposition in February from Jonathan's ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP), urged the government to accept foreign help in fighting what he called “terrorism”.
 
“There is an urgent need for the government of Nigeria to review its methods and strategies for dealing with terrorism,” Abubakar said in a statement that called on Jonathan's administration to use increased and improved intelligence methods to detect and pre-empt attacks by Boko Haram.
 
Boko Haram militants are increasingly targeting civilians they accuse of collaborating with the government or security forces. Security sources estimate the conflict has killed more than 2,000 people in the past six months alone.
 
The United States condemned Monday's bombing and said it stood with Nigerians as they grapple with “violent extremism”.
 
There had been no violence on such a scale near the capital since suicide car bombers targeted the offices of the newspaper This Day in Abuja and the northern city of Kaduna in April 2012.
 
A Christmas Day bombing of a church in Madalla, on the outskirts of Abuja, killed 37 people in 2011. Boko Haram also claimed responsibility for a bomb attack on the United Nations' Nigeria headquarters that killed 24 people on Aug. 26, 2011.
 
Boko Haram, which in the Hausa language means broadly “Western education is sinful”, is loosely modeled on the Taliban movement in Afghanistan, and has forged ties with al-Qaida-linked militants in the Sahara.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Troops Depart

Afghans are grappling with how exodus will affect country's fragile economy More

Video Scientists Say We Need Softer Robots

Today’s robots are mostly hard, rigid machines, with sharp edges and forceful movements, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say they should be softer and therefore safer More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs