Alex Enumah in Abuja
The United Kingdom (UK) has emphasised the need for a political solution to the crisis in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria.
The 2nd Secretary, Political, Niger Delta and Head of Communication, British High Commission in Abuja, Louise Edwards, stated this on Friday, during a courtesy visit to the Abuja office of THISDAY Newspapers and Arise Television.
Edwards said though the Niger Delta issue was complex with a very long history, there was however relative peace in the area for some time now.
She enjoined both militants and the government to continue to dialogue in order to sustain the ceasefire.
â€œThe Niger Delta issue is a complex one and itâ€™s a long historic issue. But thereâ€™s relative peace there for some time now which is a really good thing.
â€œWe are advocating and encouraging a political solution to the problems down in the delta,â€ she said.
The envoy also advocated the need for the economic development of the region as one of the solutions to the crisis.
â€œThereâ€™s need for economic development in the region and we will encourage the militants and the government to carry on talking to each other for the government to fulfill the promises it has made and for the militants to continue with the Ceasefire.
â€œWe are doing what we can to support the government; we are working with other like-minded nations to sustain the peaceful solution so that the economic solution can come. As you know now economic development canâ€™t take place without peace,â€ she said.
She disclosed that the UK apart from working in partnership with governments and civil society organisations had been implementing various programmes targeted at sustaining the peace in the region.
She said the visit to THISDAY newspapers was to appreciate the robust coverage the medium had been giving to the embassy and to explore other areas of further collaboration, adding, â€œWe want to start by saying thank you for all the coverage you have been giving to the British High commission and to all our activities.
Similarly, Press and Public Relations Officer, Joe Abuku, expressed the embassyâ€™s interest in partnering with Arise TV, noting that the station already had a large audience in the UK.
He assured that the doors of the embassy and that of other UK offices were always open to THISDAY and Arise TV.
â€œArise TV is a platform we are interested in. Arise is as big as other networks. There is a big UK audience for Arise, like I said; you have your office in London so itâ€™s a good way as well for us to get certain things out to Diasporas and the UK public.
Our doors are open and we are glad to start the conversation on how best we can make good use of your platforms,â€ he said.
While they commended the efforts of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration at enthroning good governance in the country, they however urged the administration to remove all barriers impeding the nationâ€™s development.
The envoy also pledged to do everything possible to support free press in Nigeria.
Responding, the Editor Nation’s Capital of THISDAY, Iyobosa Uwugiaren, assured the representatives of the High Commission that THISDAY is ever ready to partner with any institution that is committed in promoting democratic norms and values in Nigeria.
Describing Niger Delta issues as very complex, Mr. Uwugiaren said that the region needs urgent attention of the international community in areas of infrastructure, development and good governance.