Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture has blasted the United States over its recent statement warning its citizens against travelling to 20 Nigerian states.
In the travel warning, US listed the Nigerian states to be avoided as Bauchi, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Niger, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, Zamfara, Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.
The warning reads in part, “The ability of the Mission to provide assistance to U.S. citizens in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe states remains severely limited. The Department recommends against all but essential travel to the following states due to the risk of kidnappings, robberies, and other armed attacks.
“The U.S. Mission advises all U.S. citizens to be particularly vigilant around government security facilities; churches, mosques, and other places of worship; locations where large crowds may gather, such as hotels, clubs, bars, restaurants, markets, shopping malls; and other areas frequented by expatriates and foreign travelers.
“Security measures in Nigeria remain heightened due to threats posed by extremist groups, and U.S. citizens may encounter police and military checkpoints, additional security, and possible road blocks throughout the country.”
However, Mohammed, in response on Thursday, August 11, insisted that no state in Nigeria is unsafe.
Speaking while hosting a delegation from the Association of Tourism Practitioners of Nigeria, ATPN, Mohammed observed that US is itself the subject of terrorism attacks, as there is no week when a killing is not recorded.
“Recently, all the newspapers carried the negative story that 20 states in Nigeria are not safe, according to a US report,” he said.
“We are in Nigeria, how can we believe the claim that 20 states in Nigeria are not safe? That is not correct. There is no state in Nigeria that is not safe today.
“Is there any week they are not killing people in the US by either shooting in schools or driveways, or people committing suicide or mass bombing?
“How many of these stories do their media celebrate? If they want to tell their people not to come to Nigeria, it is not for us to help them propagate it.”
He urged the media and members of the association to complement efforts of government to re-position the tourism sector, saying the sector is driven by perception rather than reality.
He implored every Nigerian to invest in perception management for the country. He also urged leaders in the public and private sectors to help promote local tourism by spending their vacations and holidays at tourist sites within the country.
Mohammed said that his ministry would soon embark on visitation of major tourist sites in the country to assess their potential for development.
Earlier, Kabir Malan, national president of the association, commended the minister for his efforts at re-positioning the tourism sector.
He called for the review and implementation of the Tourism National Plan as well as the enactment of laws that would guide the operation of tourism practitioners.
Malan also urged the government to encourage investors to set up tourist camps across the country, and make loans accessible to them.