FG orders ministries, schools in Abuja to shut down for World Economic Forum
All government offices and schools in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) are to be shut down on Wednesday and Thursday when Nigeria will be hosting the World Economic Forum Africa.
The shutdown is at the instance of the Federal Government in response to the recent bomb blasts at Nyanya, near Abuja.
It pleaded with the delegates for the summit “not to let terror win” by staying away.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Pius Anyim, in a statement asked private organizations with large staff to also shut down business during the two days.
He said the move “is to ease the flow of traffic within the city and enable participants carry out their assigned roles and participate actively at the World Economic Forum Africa.”
A suspected car bomb killed 19 people and wounded 60 on Thursday night at Nyanya next to the bus stop where a rush-hour bomb attack killed 75 people on April 14.
The bombs, along with the abduction of 200 girls from the Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, threaten to overshadow the WEF conference’s emphasis on Africa’s positive growth story.
The girls, who were taking examnations, were taken away on trucks on the same day as the bus station bombing.
The Federal Government is expected to mount a huge security operation to protect the WEF scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday.
A regional replica of the Davos, Switzerland, event, it will bring together international leaders, policy-makers, entrepreneurs and philanthropists.
“We want to state categorically that the President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan administration will not be diverted nor will it give in to these nefarious acts of terrorism,” Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said in a statement yesterday.
“The government has taken the strongest measures to ensure a safe forum. We ask participants not to let terror win,” she said.
Despite the repeated assurances on security, there were signs that not all the delegates were convinced that Nigerian authorities could keep the capital safe during the event.
Fernando de Sousa, General Manager of Microsoft Africa Initiatives, cancelled his trip “for security reasons following the bombings in Abuja”, a PR company representing the firm said.
Interior Minister Abba Moro told Reuters that security in Abuja city centre would make it very difficult for any insurgents to find their way in.
He also said security forces were close to rescuing the missing girls.
“Defence High Command is doing everything to secure the release of these girls. We are closing in on their location. Hopefully in the next couple of days, they will be rescued,” Moro said in a telephone interview.
But he added: “The government has to be careful. Any all-out forceful rescue of these kids could undermine their safety.”