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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid