Nigeria vows to protect May’s ‘African Davos’ in Abuja
Nigeria pledged on Tuesday to deploy more than 6,000 policemen 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.
alling 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 note sent to participants and seen by Reuters, noting that security personnel would secure an area of 250 square kms (100 square miles) around the event venue.
The statement was also signed by Nwanze Okidegbe, President Jonathan’s chief economic adviser.
Assuring WEF participants that they would be safe, the note expressed Nigeria’s “deep commitment that these tragic events will not stop us from delivering on our promise to host a world-class meeting next month.”
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. Reuters