• Supports North East with 200m pounds
From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Britain’s Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson and Secretary for International Development, Ms. Priti Patel, yesterday, met with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in continuation of their official visit and restated the commitment of the UK government to assist Nigeria in the battle to rid the country of every shade of insurgency.
Johnson said his country was partnering with Nigeria in different areas, including intelligence sharing in the fight against terrorism.
He added that the UK was also working to build an economic partnership with Nigeria given the country’s status as the powerhouse of Africa and the biggest economy in the continent.
“We are here with Nigeria every step of the way,’’ he told journalists after the meeting.
Paul Arkwright, British High Commissioner to Nigeria and other top officials were among the delegation.
This came a day after the UK envoys announced a donation of 200 million pounds to indigenes of the Boko Haram devastated North-East region. The donation would serve as a lifeline to over 1.5 million people in the region.
Johnson said the visit aimed at assisting indigenes of region to avert imminent famine and build stability and security, has afforded them the opportunity to see first-hand how British military had been providing training to Nigerian soldiers fighting dreaded Islamist insurgents.
“The British military has to date, trained 28,000 Nigerian troops, equipping them with skills to turn the tide against Boko Haram, while our humanitarian aid is alleviating widespread suffering.’’
The 200 million pounds is an allocation of the Department for International Development (DFID) budget for four years from 2018 to 2022.
Ms. Patel said the United Kingdom always viewed Nigeria as a partner.
“We stand shoulder to shoulder with the government and the strength of the UK relationship with Nigeria on all aspects including the diversification and development going on in the country.’’
Patel said the meeting focused on the future and the strengthening of the relationship between the two countries.
She added that the interaction was to put forward the incentives to help create the right environment for investments, especially British investment in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, Prof. Osinbajo assured that the administration was ready to provide the necessary assistance to private investors looking to invest in the country.
The vice president said the relationship between Nigeria and United Kingdom is very important, assuring that “the next few years are certainly going to be more interesting.”
According to him, “investors would salivate if those potentials were realised” and the country is “close to the tipping point in terms of making that happen.”
He added that in terms of trade, Nigeria had no choice but to diversify from oil and was now focused on agriculture, agro-processing and more interest in technology.
“UK are our natural partners and it is much easier for business because of the relationship over time and because of the robust presence of the UK here in Nigeria through the DFID, which has been tremendously supportive,” Osinbajo said.
In the area of housing, he stated that Nigeria would be looking to partner with the United Kingdom, adding that government was interested in construction companies with the expertise and technical know-how to deliver mass housing projects across the country.
He also emphasised the role of the private sector as well as the role of government in creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive in the country.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, said the meeting covered the three priority areas of the government: security, fight against corruption and the economy.
“They have been here, and Maiduguri. The UK is partnering us in facing our security challenges and global threats by terrorists. And of course, UK is engaged with us in the anti-corruption crusade that we embarked upon and very importantly also with regard to the economy,’’ Onyeama said.
Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, said the administration was happy to receive the UK top officials.