Nigeria’s Envoy to UK Faults The Economist Magazine Report

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Mallam Garba Shehu

Deji Elumoye in Abuja

The Nigerian High Commission in the United Kingdom has complained formally to The Economist magazine over the latter’s position on Nigeria in its recent edition.

The High Commission argued that the magazine’s assessment of the country was biased and unfair to readers.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement yesterday, revealed that the Nigerian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Amb. Sarafa Tunji Isola, wrote a letter to The Economist in response to a piece titled, “Insurgency, Secessionism and Banditry Threaten Nigeria.”

He described the characterisation of Nigeria by the London-based magazine in its recent edition as unfair, saying that the issues confronting Nigeria have been long-standing and the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is achieving tremendous results in tackling them.

According to the High Commissioner: “The Economist is correct to point out the multiple security and governance challenges that Nigeria presently faces. But the picture that you present is selective and unfair to your readers. The decay of agencies and institutions has gathered momentum for decades. There is no quick or simple fix. It is unwise to pretend otherwise.”

He reminded the magazine that President Buhari had been elected twice in national elections and was indeed making progress by working with international partners:

“There has been progress. Nigeria works closely with partners in the Sahel region, Europe and the US on security and intelligence. It is not an accident that the leadership of militant groups is weaker than it has ever been.

“You highlight the need for police reform: this is a process that President Buhari’s administration has led, including the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). We are already working with the UK and others on training and equipment,” he said.

The High Commissioner described Nigeria’s “robust COVID-19 response as well as the president’s battle to provide stable energy for the country as noteworthy:

“Nigeria has led the region in a robust response to COVID-19 that has helped keep infection levels well below many parts of the world, while also helping to mitigate the economic shocks from the global downturn for the most vulnerable.
“President Buhari has also championed reforms to the energy sector, the cradle for corruption, in the teeth of fierce resistance from the old, business-as-usual brigade,” he added.

The envoy pointed out that progress being made by the administration in agriculture, creative arts and technology sectors among others does not sit well with corrupt -minded individuals in the country:

“Nigeria is far from being the only country that faces the challenge of trying to deliver overdue change in a political culture that tilts towards special interests that are often selfish and short-term.

“Optimism in sectors as diverse as agriculture, creative arts and technology point to the opportunities that are already being realised. It will be a long haul: a corrupt cabal will say we are not doing enough: what they mean is that we have already done too much, in terms ending the impunity enjoyed by the few and helping to enfranchise the many.”
Isola added that the president was also working with international partners to diminish problems associated with extremism and climate change and leave the country more united.