The World Bank Senior Economist, Finance and Private Sector Development, Africa Region, Mr. Ismail Radwn, has said that the classification of Nigeria as a â€˜security risk stateâ€™ by the United States Government would not have serious impact on the countryâ€™s economy.
Radwan stated this in an interview with our correspondent in Abuja on Thursday.
While describing Nigeriaâ€™s inclusion in the United Statesâ€™ terror list as an unfortunate incident, he however, said that the it would provide Nigeria with an opportunity the non-oil sector, especially tourism.
He noted that developing Nigeriaâ€™s vast but untapped tourism sector would help boost its foreign exchange earnings.
Radwan said, â€œConcerning the terror list in which Nigeria was included by the United States Government, clearly this is an unfortunate incident. Luckily no one was hurt in the incident, but the potential for massive damage and loss of life was certainly there. Whether it is better to attempt to profile individuals or countries is an open question.
However, the US has decided that the best way to protect its own domestic security is to label the entire countries as sponsors of terror or in some cases sources of terrorists, among others.
â€œIt will certainly mean that Nigerians, especially those with Muslim names, will be subject to further scrutiny when travelling. This is likely to start with a closer look at visa requests from young male Nigerians and then further checks at the relevant airports.
â€œHowever, Nigerians were already subject to very close checking of records and are often being singled out for searches and other scrutiny.
â€œJudging by the international press coverage this is unlikely to harm Nigeria â€˜s image any further. Most of the coverage on Cable News Network and British Broadcasting Corporation has focused on Yemen and I believe this is where this particular youth was radicalised and trained in various terrorist techniques. Making a big issue of it is likely to be counterproductive.
Perhaps a more successful strategy could be working behind the scenes to remove Nigeria from the list.
â€In terms of the economic impact, it is likely that some legitimate Nigerians will not be able to make their journeys to the US and potentially elsewhere. It is almost impossible to tighten the regulations on potential terrorists without also stymieing the travel plans of bona fide travellers.
However, travellers that have gone overseas and returned frequently in recent years are not likely to be stopped from travelling and the economic impact is likely to be minimal. Nigeria â€˜s main export of crude oil will not be effected. And it might even present an opportunity for Nigeria to develop its domestic tourist market.
Egypt experienced this effect since 9/11 as many Arabs and middle-Easterners in general found it more troublesome to travel to the US and Europe they began vacationing in Egypt and many invested in vacation homes on the red sea and the Mediterranean.