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Despite Tinubu’s assurances, U.S. issues travel advisory to citizens

By Tope Templer Olaiya
22 September 2023   |   3:40 am
• U.S. places 18 states on Do Not Travel alert • Tinubu woos investors, urges Nigerians abroad to return home • World can ignore Nigeria at own peril, Tinubu tells UN chief Two days after the United States Deputy Treasury Secretary, Wally Adeyemo visited Nigeria as part of U.S. efforts to strengthen economic ties between both countries and…

US President Joe Biden. September 6, 2023. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP)

• U.S. places 18 states on Do Not Travel alert
• Tinubu woos investors, urges Nigerians abroad to return home
• World can ignore Nigeria at own peril, Tinubu tells UN chief

Two days after the United States Deputy Treasury Secretary, Wally Adeyemo visited Nigeria as part of U.S. efforts to strengthen economic ties between both countries and a day after President Bola Tinubu, presently in the U.S. for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), advised Nigerians in abroad to return home, the U.S. government has warned its citizens to reconsider travelling to Nigeria due to increased risk of crime, terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, and armed gangs in the country.

An updated travel advisory issued on September 20 by the U.S. Department of State included a flat “do not travel” warning for Borno, Yobe, Kogi, and Adamawa states due to terrorism and kidnapping; Bauchi, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Sokoto, and Zamfara states due to kidnapping.

A similar travel advisory was issued for Abia, Anambra, Bayelsa, Delta, Enugu, Imo, and Rivers states (with the exception of Port Harcourt) due to crime, kidnapping, and armed gangs.

While placing these states on Level 4 – the highest risk category, the U.S. warned that the security situation in the states is fluid and unpredictable due to widespread terrorist activity, inter-communal violence, and kidnapping; and security operations to counter these threats may occur without warning.

The travel advisory, which carpets 18 states in all, excludes Lagos, 17 other states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

“Violent crime – such as armed robbery, assault, carjacking, kidnapping, hostage taking, roadside banditry, and rape – is common throughout the country. Kidnappings for ransom occur frequently, often targeting dual national citizens who have returned to Nigeria for a visit, as well as U.S. citizens with perceived wealth. Kidnapping gangs have also stopped victims on interstate roads”, the advisory read.

“Terrorists continue plotting and carrying out attacks in Nigeria. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting shopping centers, malls, markets, hotels, places of worship, restaurants, bars, schools, government installations, transportation hubs, and other places where crowds gather. Terrorists are known to work with local gangs to expand their reach.

“There is civil unrest and armed gangs in parts of Southern Nigeria, especially in the Niger Delta and Southeast regions; and armed criminality and gangs, including kidnapping and assaults on Nigerian security services is also pervasive in this region. Violence can flare up between communities of farmers and herders in rural areas” it added.

The State Department had last issued a travel advisory on August 2 to Niger, which is same Level 4 – Do Not Travel warning, owing to the July 26 coup which deposed President Mohamed Bazoum, placing him on house arrest, a situation that led to the immediate evacuation of non-emergency government employees from the country.

On January 20, this year, in its previous alert on Nigeria, the State Department had updated its travel advisory to Level 3 – Reconsider Travel.

Bandits.Pix: DailyTrust

However, in its updated advisory, it said terrorist groups based in the Northeast routinely target humanitarian camps, security forces, churches, schools, mosques, government installations, educational institutions, entertainment venues, and road travelers. Approximately two million Nigerians have been displaced as a result of the violence in Northeast Nigeria.

The State Department further cautioned its citizens that the government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in many areas of Nigeria due to security conditions.

Meanwhile, President Tinubu has advised Nigerians in the U.S. to rise beyond failure by adopting a new mentality for success in all aspects of life. Tinubu made the remarks during a Presidential Town Hall Meeting with Nigerians in the Diaspora in New York on Wednesday evening.

The town hall meeting was organised by the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) on the sidelines of the 78th session of the UNGA.

He said: “I want to give you a measure that will resonate with you. I was once a diasporan. What you have been through, I have been through it. Change of mindset is necessary. Take it this night that Nigeria is home for business opportunities.

“Also, anywhere you stay, there is always going to be an opportunity in, and in everything you do, there is always going to be an opportunity, if you know how to search and put your mind into it,’’ he said.

The President also expressed satisfaction with the behaviour of Nigerians who have continued to flourish in their chosen sectors in their host nation.

He added: “You are lucky to be among those who are celebrated for good manners and behavior and are operating in an acceptable manner.

“I’m very proud of you; I have also been a source of inspiration, determination, commitment and perseverance and that is all you need to get through.

“But, we need you back home, Nigeria has arrived; forget the frustration of the previous year’s leadership,’’ he said.

Also, the President yesterday, assured prospective investors of his administration’s determination to adopt necessary fiscal and regulatory measures toward the ease of doing business in Nigeria.
At the Nigeria-U.S. Executive Business Roundtable, the President said he recognised that investment capital is cowardly in nature. He said that was the reason behind his bringing successful Nigerian industrialists and public officials to share their experiences and operational plans, respectively.

Tinubu said this was in addition to all he had done to boost the confidence of the global investment community in Nigeria, by reforming the fiscal, monetary, regulatory and tax policy environment.

“Nigeria is an opportunity that is impossible to replicate or find elsewhere in any part of the world. We have brilliant young people who both innovate and consume at a large scale.
“Our entrepreneurial spirit is a major part of what makes our market totally unique, aside from demography. Nigerians build businesses and Nigerian businesses partner with other businesses to conduct larger business.
“There is enough value to spread around. Be careful of what you hear about Nigeria. You may be dissuaded out of a major opportunity that others will take up. We are here for you. We will give you all the support you need to succeed and succeed abundantly,” he said.

On behalf of the U.S. Government, U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary, Wally Adeyemo, told U.S. business leaders he came back from Nigeria on an official visit that later became a fact-finding mission.

“In Lagos, I saw, first-hand, some of the major reforms you implemented as the governor of Lagos and the transformative effect on Nigeria’s commercial capital.
“People have attested to the fact that the reforms you have put in place as President are quickly enhancing confidence. American business is paying attention to that and from what we have seen for ourselves, Nigeria is proving to be a new frontier for investment. We will encourage our companies from our end as those reforms continue to deepen,” Adeyemo said.

The American Business Council President, Mr Sops Ideriah, said the extensive turnout at the roundtable by American business chief executives was impressive.

According to him, the turnout served as a testament to the degree to which confidence is rising in response to the actions and words of the President.

He said that this was with respect to ease of doing business, investment promotion, and his willingness to intervene to clear the historical concerns of American business people about doing business in Nigeria.

“Having all the stakeholders in the room, the President of Nigeria being here, from government actors at the federal and state level to ministers and tax authorities present, as well as private sector industrialists in Nigeria. We are very positive about the potential of Nigeria and we are just reinforcing to our colleagues the message about the economic opportunities that exist there,” Ideriah said.

Acting Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr Zacch Adedeji, assured the American captains of industry that the nation’s apex tax authority would not focus on taxing the seed.

He said it would focus only on the proportionate taxation of the fruit of fully formed industry, through efficient policy synergy with Nigeria’s sub-national authorities.

“The President is a business enabler, not a handicapper. Everything we do will be geared toward making your tax assessment and payment processes as digitally efficient and transparent as possible. We are not after the seed, but the fruit and we will keep to this commitment,” Adedeji said.

Furthermore, President Tinubu has said the UN must transform from being one of the world’s foremost talkshops to discuss global issues into becoming the world’s foremost action coordination center.
The president said this on Wednesday evening while meeting with United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, at his UN Headquarters Office in New York City.

He said a situation in which 70 per cent of the resources being devoted to the world’s poorest countries were being spent and sent back out on overheads and administrative costs would defeat the purpose and objectives of the organisation where help was needed most.

President Tinubu, who said the world would ignore Nigeria at its own peril, underscored the need for the global body to work with Africa to address the challenges of poverty and terrorism. He pledged not to rest until people had arisen out of poverty even if it required decisions at home that made him “temporarily unpopular.

“The poverty ravaging our continent and the question of security and counter-terrorism requires us to work in close and effective synergy. The world will ignore Nigeria at its own peril. If we engage in talkshops as real challenges wreak real havoc in real time, we will fail. The time to strike is now. The time to achieve real results is now. I fought for democracy. I was detained for democracy. I am now President and I am determined to prove that democracy can provide the development that our nation and our continent so urgently demands.

“Trace those of us here to our foundations and you will find that we have ties and links with poverty. We must not be ashamed of that history, but poverty is unacceptable. I am one of the lucky survivors of gripping poverty. Nigeria is truly a giant; 240 million people and counting with a massive youth population. We are done saying too much. We seek much action. We have arisen out of poverty as individuals, but until our people have arisen out of that, we will not rest, even if it requires decisions at home that make me temporarily unpopular,” the president said.

President Tinubu also said African nations would no longer accept a situation in which human rights advocacy was used by wealthy and powerful nations to stop developing economies from dealing decisively with malign actors who siphoned and smuggled out the continent’s vast mineral resources while smuggling in western-made weapons, which enriched the wealthiest economies in the world at the parasitic expense of African stability and wealth creation.

“We are facing the great challenge of scavengers ravaging our lands and oppressing our people on illegal mines—taking our gold and mineral wealth back to developed economies by stealth and violence against Nigerians. Where one’s human right ends, the rights of another begin. Most especially for self-protection. If we fight, they say ‘human rights,’ but we will now be aggressive and we will question motives. We will stop what is happening in our land. We require your effective collaboration,” he stated.

In response, the UN Secretary-General emphasised that the UN system is in the process of real reform that will largely address some of the institutional frailties and lack of decision-making power for the developing world, on whose behalf more than 75 per cent of UN resources are accrued.

“We now recognize the need to reform the institution to represent the world as it is today. The questions of debt and SDRs. The fact that middle-income countries have only marginal access to concessional funding. In the SDGs Summit, we believe we have a growing political consensus and now, a declaration, in this regard. We are pursuing this with great determination,” the UN Secretary-General said.

He further assured President Tinubu of the fullest support of the UN system for ECOWAS in light of the series of military coups which have occurred in the West African sub-region in the past few months and years.

“Mr. President, we have high expectations for your presidency after the many bold steps you have taken. Nigeria is an indispensable voice in the sub-region. We will give you every support needed for your success to be achieved. Your success is Africa’s success and we wish you well,” the UN leader added.