Governments of the United Kingdom and the United States, last week, updated their travel advisories following recent terror alerts, warning their citizens against travelling to Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. They did so in the wake of an alleged increased threat of terrorist attacks on the seat of power.
The two countries made their decisions at a time when President Muhammadu was out on a business visit to South Korea to woo Korean investors to come to Nigeria. On hearing what the UK and USA had done in his absence, Buhari quickly asked Nigerians to “stay calm but be vigilant”. According to a statement by his spokesperson, Garba Shehu, Buhari advised “the nation’s security establishment and entire citizens to continue being vigilant and careful with security, saying it is important to avoid panic.” The president, however, said the advisories the United Kingdom and US governments gave out did not mean “an attack in Abuja is imminent. ”
The precautionary actions of the two western governments was understandable. They must protect their nationals wherever they are. This is what responsive governments do always. Nigerians who have disagreed with the two governments, alleged that they did what they did without consulting their Nigerian host. But it is noteworthy that President Buhari did not say so in his reaction to the travel warnings.
Let us say the truth here. To a large extent, we, Nigerians, precipitated the actions of the UK and US. We open our mouths too loud while commenting on issues that border on our security. This we do without realizing the whole world is listening. Yes, elections are approaching and politicians are on the hustings selling themselves, their parties and programmes. It is ok, but a note of advice here: don’t say or do anything that will cast the country you plan to govern to tomorrow in poor light. Don’t scare the same foreign powers that you want to be friends with tomorrow.
The outcome of the President’s meeting with security chiefs on Monday to review the terror alerts was a soothing reassurance. The National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, in a post meeting press briefing, dispelled the heightened terror alert, saying there was no cause for alarm. All the same, we must not let down our guards at all times. We should be vigilant with or without terror alert from the UK or US.