FG Moves to Calm Investors After Attacks

Hit by a wave of insurgent attacks, Nigeria raced Tuesday to secure the country’s capital just weeks before it hosts a global showcase intended to trumpet its arrival into the club of big emerging economies.
Nigerian troops erected checkpoints on key roads and officials promised more police on the streets, one day after an explosion at a suburban Abuja bus station killed 75 people. Many of the dead were children and commuters on their way to school and work.
Hours later, Islamist militants in the northeast drove trucks through the gates of a boarding school where teenage girls had been studying for final exams. Insurgents carried away more than 100 students at gunpoint, according to neighbors and a police official.
Last Thursday and Friday, the insurgency known as Boko Haram was blamed for attacks in northeastern villages that killed 217 people. The sect burned down four villages and shot civilians, according to Sen. Ahmed Zanna, the leading legislator from Borno state, which is the epicenter of Boko Haram’s war to impose Quranic law across Africa’s biggest economy.
The display of carnage, which has become tragically commonplace in Nigeria’s north, comes at a delicate moment for the government. The country’s oil-rich economy just surpassed South Africa as the continent’s largest, but the attacks are raising doubts among the very people Nigeria needs to fuel future growth: foreign investors.
Some are now saying they are still weighing participation in the three-day World Economic Forum meeting set to convene in Abuja on May 7.
“It depends on what’s going to happen—whether or not it is an isolated event,” said Paul Gomes, president of oil and gas advisory firm Constelor Investment Holdings. “I’ve learned to factor in the risk when it comes to Nigeria.”
On late Monday, the country’s finance minister countered those misgivings, saying her government would station 6,000 police and soldiers along the leafy boulevards of Nigeria’s capital. It “will be the largest security operation ever mounted in this country for an international summit,” according to a statement from Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
Spokesmen for the World Economic Forum didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Yvonne Ike, the chief executive of Renaissance Capital, West Africa, said curiosity among many investors in Nigeria’s big fast-growing market will probably outweigh security concerns. Still, businesspeople will closely watch whether the Nigerian government can prevent another massive attack, according to the investment banker.

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