Moves food summit to Senegal
Steps govt must take against terror gang, by diplomats
NIGERIA is painfully having to lick more of the economic and social wounds inflicted on it by the terror attack on the United Nations (UN) House in Abuja on August 26, 2011.
In the incident, 23 persons were confirmed dead, with 11 of them being UN personnel.
The latest loss Nigeria has suffered from the incident is the right to host the global food security meeting of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) slated for this month in Abuja now moved to Senegal.
The UN agency, which wrote to the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on the decision, said it was due to the UN suspension of all official travels to Nigeria “until further notice.”
FAO said at the weekend that the event would now hold in Dakar, Senegal on October 6 and 7, 2011.
Before the FAO’s disclosure, experts had said that the bombing of the UN House would cost Nigeria indirect loss of revenue through decline in the patronage of its hospitality industry and other services.
The cancellation of the FAO meeting in Abuja, as announced by its regional office, diplomats said is just the beginning of other things, and possibly international appointments Nigeria might lose for being listed in the lower ladder of terror states.
The meeting brings together experts and food administrators from across the world.
In an explanatory note to ECOWAS on why the meeting was moved to Senegal, which was made available to The Guardian, FAO cited security threats and the activities of terrorist groups such as the destructive Boko Haram Islamic sect as reasons.
It said: “Following the regrettable and tragic bomb blast of the UN building in Abuja, all UN official travels to Nigeria have been suspended until further notice. For your information, an Organising Team has been set up since to coordinate the meeting preparation,” the statement added.
On the many possible fallouts of the bomb blast of the UN House and the growing climate of fear in the country, diplomatic experts and watchers of international politics, said it has the potential to draw negative attention to Nigeria as unstable and insecure nation.
There are worries that in the event of the UN scaling up Nigeria on the security threat index, the Federal Government’s renewed drive to attract foreign investors would be a fruitless exercise.
Nigeria is currently classified in the low to medium security threat category.
Ambassador Joe Keshi, technocrat and former permanent secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ambassador Ayo Adeniran, Nigeria’s former envoy to Venezuela now with the National Defence College, Abuja said investors might adopt a “wait and see attitude.”
On investment scare, Keshi said: “I quickly note that because of the potential of Nigeria, investors might just wait to see what happens next. They will not totally abandon us but we have to win their confidence not through talks but through credible and bold initiatives that reassure them that Nigeria is ready for business and that we can do by focusing attention on a number of issues at home.”
According to him, Nigeria’s problem in this regard, is “further complicated by the perception of weakness of our police and security agencies as well as the judicial system. When the international community in your country begins to ask for increased police protection, you should be worried, especially of the kind of reports they are sending home, which is why we must commend the Foreign Affairs Minister for the prompt decision to reassure the diplomats resident in Abuja of their safety.
“But we must move beyond the assurances and be seen to be taking proactive measures to curb the growing impunity against the country as our inability to do so could compound the poor perception of the country as a zone of insecurity.”
Keshi continued: “Let me try and illustrate what I’m saying. Before the elections, the Inspector-General of Police and his commissioners in the states were competing with the politicians for the camera as they assured us that they were battle ready and prepared for any eventuality. They displayed their new vehicles and bullet-proof jackets and yet before our eyes, riots broke out in some parts of the country to the extent that the Army had to be called out. .
“In October 2010, Abuja, the federal capital, was bombed and almost a year later nobody has been brought to justice. It is the same story either in the Jos crisis or anywhere that bombs have been exploded or riots have occurred. In comparison, it took the British police about six months or so to find the students who were responsible for the attack on Prince Charles and his wife during the students’ riots against the hike in school fees by the conservative government. Only last month, another riot broke out in most parts of Britain and hundreds of rioters and looters were arrested and prosecuted instantly. The magistrates sat throughout the weekend and working with the police, they were booked, charged and justice dispensed. I was in Britain then and I saw the impact on the youngsters and their families. When you do what the British and others like the Americans do, you give the impression of a society that the system works and has the capacity to protect its citizen and is prepared to go to any extent to do so.”
To Adeniran, Nigeria only appears to be losing the war against terror because there seems not to be sufficient efforts geared at coming to terms with the real motives of the bombers and political scare-mongers.
He said: “First, one should ask: What was the perpetrators lait motif? On the immediate damage, he maintained that it would seem now that “the assistance which Nigeria has been seeking at the multilateral level has unfortunately been jeopardised. This country still has myriads of problems and challenges that she cannot solve alone without the international community coming to her assistance.”
Adeniran appears to belong to the school of thought, which sees the Nigerian entity as encouraging impunity of some of its component units.
On what is fuelling the climate of fear in Nigeria and scaring away investors, he said: “… Our adversaries are watching with keen interest and are praying that something untoward happens to Nigeria so that they can jubilate. Should we give them room for laughter? Only recently a foreign ambassador wrote a book on Nigeria’s imminent demise. The book is in circulation worldwide. Should we allow such characters to say de javu? This is food for thought.”
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