The United Kingdom has expressed her readiness to work with Nigeria towards ending the nation’s insecurity nightmares.
The UK Minister of State for the Armed Forces, James Heappey, who visited Nigeria between March 28 and 29, said:
“Nigeria is an important and valued defence partner for the UK. Our two countries face many shared threats, from violent extremists like Boko Haram, to serious organised crime and piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.
“The UK is committed to working with our Nigerian friends to tackle these threats and enhance security and stability across West Africa.”
According to a statement on Wednesday by the British High Commission in Nigeria, the minister’s visit demonstrates the importance of the UK-Nigeria partnership across a range of foreign policy and defence objectives.
It said: “The UK’s recently launched Integrated Review – our most significant review of foreign, defence, development and security policy since the end of the Cold War – clearly identifies Nigeria as a priority partner for the UK.
“The UK has a long history of defence engagement in the West Africa region, and an enduring partnership with the Armed Forces of Nigeria and those deployed with the Multinational Joint Task Force against Boko Haram. Programmes within this engagement seek to explore ways to strengthen our relationship and to identify areas where the UK can support the Armed Forces of Nigeria and regional partners in their efforts to bring stability to the region.”
It revealed that during the visit, the UK Minister for the Armed Forces met the Chief of Staff to the President of Nigeria, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari; Defence Minister, Major General Bashir Magashi (rtd); Chief of the Naval Staff, Rear Admital Awwal Zubairu Gambo; Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor; and the Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum.
The statement further revealed that during his discussions, the UK Minister for the Armed Forces said the UK would continue to work closely with Nigeria to address the current security situation; and discussed future Nigeria-UK opportunities to strengthen cooperation, including further UK Ministry of Defence assistance for Nigeria.
He also stressed the importance placed on human rights in the UK engagement.
The statement said Heappey outlined how the UK is committed to working with Nigeria and other regional allies in West Africa to tackle violence in the Lake Chad Basin, while emphasising the importance to the UK and Nigeria of maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea, stressing that UK remains keen to explore opportunities to do more work with Nigeria on these issues.
The minister added that the UK looks forward to joining Senegal in co-chairing the G7++ Friends of the Gulf of Guinea (FOGG) this year, while also emphasizing how the UK is committed to supporting Nigeria with reforming national and regional structures and processes.