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 2nd American Reportedly Killed in Syria

Minnesota television report says Abdirahman Muhumed left area to fight for Islamic State militants More

WHO Fears Ebola Outbreak Could Infect 20,000 People

World Health Organization says outbreak 'continues to accelerate' but that most cases are concentrated in a few local areas More

Angelina Jolie Marries Brad Pitt

Actors wed in small private ceremony Saturday in France More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid