Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has told the United States of America authorities that their country is more insecure than they believe Nigeria is.
Mohammed, who Thursday, reacted to a travel warning by the United States to its citizens in Nigeria, in which the US said 20 Nigerian states were insecure, when he played host to a delegation from the Association of Tourism Practitioners of Nigeria (ATPN), said US recorded more daily fatal shootings and other attacks.
“Recently, all the newspapers carried the negative story that 20 states in Nigeria are not safe, according to a US report.
“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”, the Minister said.
The US had, in the travel warning, listed Bauchi, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Niger, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, Zamfara, Adamawa, Borno and Yobe as states that should avoided by its nationals in the country.
It had said: “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”.
Insisting that US states are subject of very fatal terrorism attacks, Alhaji Mohammed however called on the Nigerian media and ATPN to complement efforts of government to reposition the tourism sector.
He said the sector should be driven by perception rather than reality.
Alhaji Mohammed also called on Nigerians to invest in perception management for the country adding that leaders in the public and private sectors should also help promote local tourism by spending their vacations and holidays at tourist sites in the country.
Also speaking, ATPN’s national president, Kabir Malan, commended the minister for his efforts at re-positioning the tourism sector.
He however called for a review, and implementation, of the Tourism National Plan as well as the enactment of laws that would guide operation of tourism in the country.