The government is not at all concerned that Antigua Airways will import corruption of high level of violence from Nigeria.
The carrier – set to link the twin-island nation directly to West Africa – is being financed by African investors.
Nigeria is experiencing a dramatic upsurge in everyday violence, including abductions, religiously motivated attacks, assaults by armed gangs, and police brutality. Authorities are failing to contain the chaos, risking the future of Africa’s powerhouse.
But there are concerns that the airline may cause an influx of Nigerians to the twin island state.
But Information Minister Melford Nicholas said the government is no more concerned than it is with the high level of violence against blacks in the United States.
“I don’t know that we are more concerned than we would be about the violence exhibited on black people in the United States. The US remains one of our highest source markets and we do see that there are high levels of violence perpetrated against persons who are of African decent. Crime is everywhere…”, Nicholas said.
What Antigua and Barbuda needs to do according to Nicholas, is to ensure that its borders are more secure.
“We take the view that the necessary protocols in place for persons coming into our shore will be complied with when they get here. There is a downside risk that persons of bad reputations may slip through the cracks but the upside part of this has to do with the establishment of new trading routes and no social and new social and economic engagement with that part of Africa,” he said.
Nigeria has always been at the center of violence the most coming being gangs but Nicholas remains adamant that these criminals may seldom travel to the Caribbean supposedly because they have a criminal record.
“Certainly Nigeria is one of the richest countries in Africa and to the extent that we can attract investment to that part of the world is something that we are looking at favorably. So we are not particularly tied to any fear notion that by opening and establishing these routes, we would be importing any levels of violence and curroption because that remains true for all countries we have ties with,” Nicholas added.
Violence in Nigeria has left thousands dead and many more wounded and caused widespread displacement.
According to reports from news outlets in Nigeria, “these gangs attack isolated farms, and small villages, rob people and their properties kill men and take away women and children as captives. Some are released after a ransom is paid; others remain captive for months or years”.
Reports say the government of Nigeria has responded by deploying troops from several military units to Zamfara State.
And on 21 September 2012, President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in Zamfara State.