From Tony John, Port Harcourt
The British government has said the world’s spotlight would be on Nigeria during the 2023 general elections and concerted efforts must be made to improve the country’s democracy.
The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, disclosed this after a closed door meeting with the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, at the Government House, Port Harcourt, on Tuesday.
‘The importance of these elections, how crucial they are, not just for Nigeria’s democratic journey, but for Africa and the world. The world’s spotlight will be on Nigeria in 2023. It needs to be a better election, not perfect but better to consolidate and improve Nigeria’s democracy, and I think the Governor very much agree with me on that,’ Laing said.
The British High Commissioner disclosed she had a very fruitful discussion with Governor Wike, and their discussion revolved around the economy, prospects of his vision including youth employment, challenges he is facing and his plans to tackle them.
Speaking on the issue of security, the High Commissioner said Britain is helping the Nigeria military to build its combat capacity in tackling insurgency, including Boko Haram in the northern part of Nigeria.
According to her, the British military has had its presence in Nigeria for several years and has continued to offer training on how to counter insurgency in the northern part of Nigeria.
‘In the North in particular, we are sharing our experiences in counter insurgency from Northern Ireland, from Iraq and from Afghanistan. We have a military presence here. It has been here for many years training your military in counter insurgency and also sharing our experiences.
‘That this kind of challenges are not solved by the military means alone; ultimately it’s about rebuilding trust with the people of this country and having a good offer as well as tackling the underline economic drive, unemployment.’
Laing said the British government was offering economic assistance to Nigeria because of the realisation that lack of economic opportunities in the north has made youths in that region to become easy recruits of Boko Haram.
‘Unemployment, many young men out of work are very easy target for Boko Haram. So, we are sharing our experience and in a practical sense helping on the security side and offering economic support to the country to enable that there will be more jobs for the people,’ she said.