Visiting United Kingdom Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has said the Boko Haram-fuelled insurgency in the North East has displaced 2 million people.
Hunt also expressed his home government’s commitment to ensuring successes in Nigeria.
The envoy gave the reassurance to Nigerians; in response to questions sent to him from the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in Lagos.
“Nigeria’s success really matters to the U.K. As we leave the European Union, now is the time to redouble our efforts and commit to the partnerships we have with our African friends.
“The opportunities we see right now in Africa are tremendous, with enormous potential to grow.
“We must see African nations as partners and destinations for investment and trade,’’ he said.
According to him, a free press is the first secure basis for prosperity in a world where innovation and technological advance are the central conditions for progress.
The foreign secretary, who visited the North East, on Wednesday, also reaffirmed UK government’s commitment to fighting Boko Haram and the Islamic State in West Africa.
“The conflict here involving Boko Haram and Islamic State has displaced two million people. UK support for the World Food Programme has helped feed 1.5 million, but, we are also focusing on long term solutions to improving livelihoods and opportunity,’’ he said.
The UK has also agreed to help Nigeria with non-oil exports by increasing the air freight capacity of British Airways, its national carrier —provided the efficiency of Nigeria’s international airports increases.
Both countries reached this agreement in a communique signed in Abuja, on Tuesday, at the first Economic Development Forum.
Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, led the Nigerian delegation while Hunt represented thr UK.
In the communique, increasing British Airway’s capacity would help Nigeria’s non-oil export reach third-market destinations, through London, thus support the government’s export diversification agenda.
Also, both countries agreed to fast-track key regulation to deepen the insurance market, expand the digital economy and explore Naira-denominated financial instruments in collaboration with the City of London.
Speaking at the signing of the communique, Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, said the current level of trade and investments between the two countries is materially below potential, given that Africa represents only 2 percent of UK’s trade relationships, and Nigeria represents only a tenth of that.
He called for all hands to be on deck to ensure that “we foster the right environment to grow the level of bilateral trade and investment between our great countries.”
The forum was launched in August 2018, by President Muhammadu Buhari and UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, as a platform to foster economic and development ties between Nigeria and the United Kingdom.