The Federal Government has expressed concern over the security alert issued by the United States warning its citizens against travelling to Nigeria, noting that it generated panic and undermined investment.
The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Muhammed Idris, on Monday during an interaction with editors in Abuja, said the Federal Government had consistently prioritised the safety and well-being of all visitors to the country.
The US had issued a warning on Friday, November 3, to its citizens in Nigeria to avoid major hotels in the country, citing some security threats targeted at the hotels in the large cities, especially, the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
The US admonished its citizens to exercise vigilance at major hotels, be alert of their surroundings, keep a low profile, and review the travel advisory for Nigeria before checking into any hotels.
Responding to the advisory, The PUNCH reported that the information minister cautioned the US authorities against generalising isolated security incidents across the entire hospitality industry.
He went further to reel out the various security operations carried out by the security agencies in their quest to ensure public safety.
Idris said ‘’We understand the concerns raised by the United States government in their recent travel advisory, but believe that it is imperative that we do not generalize isolated incidents across the entire hospitality industry.
‘’What we have seen is that such advisories do not achieve anything other than needless panic, and they can have a severe adverse economic impact, not to talk of what they do to undermine the government’s efforts to attract investment.
‘’We have consistently prioritised the safety and well-being of all visitors to our country. We have implemented comprehensive security measures, both at the Federal and State levels, to ensure the safety of tourists and international guests.
‘’These measures include intense intelligence gathering, acquisition, and deployment of additional platforms, training, and re-training of personnel, cooperation with international law enforcement agencies, among others, to maintain a secure environment.’’
The minister stressed that the Federal Government was dedicated to ensuring the safety and well-being of all Nigerians.
He highlighted the successes recorded by the security agencies recently across the various theatres of operation.
According to him, seven bandits were killed in various parts of Kaduna State between November 1 and 3, while a joint operation by troops of the Nigerian Army and the Department of State Services carried out a dawn raid operation on terrorists’ hideout in Gezawa Local Government Area, successfully averting an imminent attack on Kano by the insurgents.
The minister said, ‘’The operation recovered AK 47 rifles, AK47 rifle magazines, a Rocket Propelled Gun, RPG bombs, hand grenades, Improvised Explosive Device-making materials, among others.
‘’In Katsina, two NYSC members abducted by bandits were successfully rescued. In the North-East and North-West of the country, the Nigerian Air Force has been very busy, with several successful airstrikes on bandits’ and terrorists’ camps and hideouts in Katsina, Zamfara, and Borno States.
‘’The Air Force has also recently taken delivery of four new aircraft, to strengthen the fight against banditry and terrorism. In our maritime environment, on October 25, the Eastern and Central Naval Commands flagged off a Joint Sea Exercise, ‘Exercise SEA GUARDIAN 2023.’
‘’I have taken some time to outline some of these efforts to make the point that our security and intelligence agencies are constantly at work, foiling threats, and neutralizing those who seek to undermine the security of the country.
‘’And for this reason, they deserve the full support of all Nigerians, the media included. Please pay attention to what they’re doing, and give amplified coverage to their successes and gains.’’
The minister said the bandits, terrorists, kidnappers, pirates, and other hoodlums were waging not only a physical battle but also a psychological one,’’ trying to undermine our faith and confidence in our security agencies.’’
He cautioned the media leaders to be careful not to play into their hands through reporting that might be misleading or sensational or that might undermined the morale of the security personnel.
Asked if the US security advisory had political implications, he replied, ‘’We don’t think the security alert is helpful, if anything, it creates unnecessary panic and it has an impact on our economy because people would now begin to get afraid.
‘’They should rather emphasise what the government is doing to counter the threats and terrorism around the country and around the Federal Capital itself. But whether it has political implications, I don’t want to allude to that. I’m being careful in the way I characterize things.’’
On the N2.17 trillion Supplementary Appropriation Bill passed by the National Assembly, the minister disclosed that it would guarantee the liquidity needed for critical interventions in road infrastructure, agriculture, student loan schemes, health, security, housing, and social investment, among other critical areas of national needs.
‘’The President is pleased with the quick and decisive response of the National Assembly in passing the 2023 supplementary budget. Note also that work is ongoing on the 2024 Appropriation Bill, which is going to be the first full-year budget of the Tinubu Administration,’’ Idris said.
Since assuming office, the information minister said the President had signed no fewer than five Executive Orders, aimed at improving Nigeria’s business and fiscal environment, and increasing foreign exchange supply, adding that the moves by the Central Bank of Nigeria to clear the billions of dollars in inherited foreign exchange backlog had generated immediate impact.
Idris noted, “The deft moves by the Central Bank of Nigeria to clear the billions of dollars in inherited foreign exchange backlog. We saw the immediate impact of this on the exchange rates last week, and we are confident that this is just the beginning.
“Under the Renewed Hope Agenda, the Central Bank is determined to focus on its core mandates of price stability and financial system stability, for the benefit of all Nigerians.’’
He further said that the Federal Government had made a lot of savings from the petrol subsidy removal and passed the same to state governments to assist in cushioning the effects of the policy on Nigerians.
Idris said he could not estimate the amount so far saved, but emphasised that a lot had been passed to state governors.
“So much money has been saved since the removal of the subsidy. Some of the money that has been saved has been given to states.
“Mr President believes that state governments are closer to the people than the federal. That is why the administration has been passing funds through the governors to provide palliatives to cushion the effects of the subsidy removal. I cannot give the exact figure right now because it is an ongoing exercise,’’ he noted.
The minister pointed out that the victory against Process & Industrial Developments Ltd in the $11 billion case had given impetus to the administration’s efforts to ensure that Nigeria reaps only positive benefits from all our contractual engagements with local and foreign economic interests.