The Call for Renewed Nigeria-British Partnership

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President Muhammadu Buhari

By Lekan Fatodu

The long anticipated Nigerian presidential election has come and gone. And a winner has finally emerged. Even though the first runner-up in the election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), has claimed that he was robbed of victory and will stop at nothing to reclaim the coveted mandate through the court, President Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the winner, has proceeded with the conduct of the affairs of the nation.

Indeed, the president has got no reason to further delay to take on the task ahead. This includes mending fences that were almost pulled down due to tension arising from election campaigns and building bridges across party lines as well as reassuring Nigeria’s international friends on his government’s will to build a greater Nigeria and also calling for their support in many areas of development.

I’m sure Buhari must be very grateful that the election, predicted by some to be characterised by violence, turned out to be largely peaceful.

No doubt, Nigeria still has so much to improve on in the management of her affairs and particularly her electoral process. It is really unfortunate that some of the familiar problems with Nigerian elections such as unimpressive planning by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), inadequate training for commission’s staff, paucity of staff, ineffective security and other embarrassing inadequacies also featured in the 2019 election.

That’s why the international observers, who commended the process to be free, fair and largely peaceful, couldn’t hide their disappointment over some of the preventable limitations as stated above.

That said, it’s pleasing to note that the government is alive to other areas where it needs to seriously improve performance; and to reach out for more support.

In 2015, President Buhari campaigned on three development points namely to fight corruption, build economy and strengthen security. Although the government consistently talks about its achievements on these priorities, many are doubtful of claims to significant successes in those areas.

So, much still needs to be done to tackle those critical social-economic troubles and to deliver on the agenda for the Next Level of prosperity that just won Buhari a second term in office.

I’m glad that the Buhari administration through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, has indicated that the fight against corruption requires more vitality and more advanced support, which is why the Nigerian government has called on the British Government to build the capacities of anti-corruption institutions in Nigeria.

Mustapha, who made the call in Abuja during a courtesy visit by the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mrs Catriona Laing and the Director for Africa, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, UK, Ms Harriet Mathews, affirmed that fighting corruption without putting up measures to prevent the scourge would not yield expected results.
‘‘We believe that if the institutions are strong and have adequate capacities, they will be able to work efficiently and effectively to prevent corrupt practices.
‘‘We will record substantial success if we deal with corruption from the roots by preventing it from happening,” he said.

Similarly, the SGF has called on the British Government to help in the repatriation of looted funds from Nigeria.

He said that most of the funds were laundered and kept in banks outside the shores of Nigeria, and suggested that it will require tremendous commitment from the UK government and other friendly nations to assist in returning the slush funds to Nigeria to be used for various developmental projects.

Mustapha, obviously trying to use a stone to kill many birds with the august visitors, also pleaded with his foreign partners for the flexibility of British laws to allow for easy flow of capital from its government and financial institutions into Nigeria.

‘‘The institutions in the UK still run commercial lending which Nigerian economy cannot absorb.

‘‘We believe that the way your country may be able to redeem some of its lost relationship is to make its laws flexible to allow easy flow of capital to Nigeria,” he added.
In her remarks, the British High Commissioner, Liang, expressed satisfaction with the Nigerian government’s commitment to fighting corruption and tackling other socio-economic challenges while pledging the commitment of the British Government to continue to support Nigeria to ensure that its areas of priority were achieved to sustain the long-term relationship between both countries.

Hopefully, Nigeria will fully grab this opportunity of a renewed partnership to unlock greater opportunities in the international community.