* UK backs ECOWAS’ moves to reinstate Niger President
Deji Elumoye in Abuja
President Bola Tinubu has called on the United Kingdom government to deepen its partnership with Nigeria and Africa by investing more across sectors to see the African continent attain more sustainable and broad-based prosperity.
This is just as the United Kingdom has given its consent to steps being taken by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to reinstate President Mohammed Bazoum of Niger Republic who was displaced by Presidential Guards in Niamey last week.
The president made the call Wednesday while playing host to the United Kingdom’s Secretary of Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, Hon. James Cleverly MP, at the State House, Abuja.
Calling on the UK to commit more to win-win development partnerships for Nigeria and Africa, President Tinubu recalled the history of decades of deep symbiotic connection and economic ties between the continent and the UK, adding that the UK government must work with Nigeria and the rest of Africa to create a competitive, technologically advanced economy that will cater for the needs of all citizens.
According to him, “I am happy to know that the United Kingdom is ready to work with us in Nigeria and Africa. The United Kingdom must do more for the continent. We have not developed a competitive economy.”
While addressing the pressing issue of energy transition and the opportunity for economic growth in Africa and Nigeria, the president charged the Foreign Secretary on the imperatives of the West and UK, in particular, in mobilising investment to pipe gas from Nigeria to Europe.
“The Western economic programme should be able to help Nigeria pipe our gas to Europe since gas is acceptable as alternative clean energy. You must help us with the finance and facilitate the investment we require,” he said.
Commenting on democracy, peace and stability in West Africa, President Tinubu noted that security would remain a challenge as long as there are unstable governments in the sub-region.
He decried the situation in Niger, the Sahel region and Horn of Africa where terrorists are finding comfort, asking the government of UK to support Nigeria to secure West Africa.
“We need a dynamic partnership on security and economic development because we don’t want terrorists to make Africa and our sub-region their nest,” President Tinubu told the Foreign Secretary.
Earlier in his remarks, Cleverly congratulated the president on his election victory and the steps he has taken so far to reform the economy.
He saluted President Tinubu for taking bold and decisive actions on fuel subsidy removal and on multiple foreign exchange markets which he pointed out will bring development to the country in spite of the current pains.
He told the president about his meeting in Lagos with entrepreneurs, technologists and young people in the creative sector, saying that his home government remains a strategic long-term partner of Nigeria and Africa.
“I want to commend you for the decisions you have taken to reform your economy. Your economic reforms are bold and the actions taken have been decisive. Despite the initial pains these decisions will lead to economic prosperity for Nigerians,” Cleverly said.
He further said he was in Nigeria to promote bilateral and economic partnership.
“I am keen on encouraging more UK investments into Nigeria. You took bold and important decisions so far that will reform your economy and open it more for foreign investments. Nigeria has a population of very young, educated and thoughtful people. With their energy and talents along with your resources, Nigeria can be a net exporter of energy and agricultural products. The UK will remain a strategic long-term and multi-decades partner of Nigeria and Africa,” he said.
On the political situation in Republic of Niger, the UK Foreign Secretary offered his government’s support for the decision of ECOWAS and the leadership of President Tinubu in promoting democracy and stability.
“For us, our national interest is to see a peaceful and prosperous African continent because peace and security go hand in hand,” he said.
Addressing newsmen after the visit, Cleverly further explained that the UK government welcomes the ECOWAS actions to restore democratic rule in Niger Republic.
He said: “We touched briefly on the situation in Niger. I made the point that the UK very much welcomes ECOWAS and his indeed decisive action, his strong commitment to democracy and the unambiguous message, that violence is not the means to bring political change in any circumstance, and that the commitment to democracy in Nigeria and the region is unwavering.
“This very much supports the UK’s position. We wish to see peace and democracy restored in Niger. And we will, of course, continue to liaise with our strong friends in the region and membership of ECOWAS, including Nigeria, as we seek to bring about stability, peace, and democracy to Niger.
“We wish to see peace and democracy restored in Niger. And we will, of course, continue to liaise with our strong friends in the region, membership of ECOWAS, of course, including Nigeria.”
The UK Foreign Secretary reiterated his country’s commitment to working more closely with Nigeria on important issues including defence and security of trade and investment.
“And we are committed to ensuring the UK and Nigeria meet regularly and formally at the ministerial level and senior official level to ensure that the good strong foundation stone upon which the bilateral relationship is built is enhanced even further,” Cleverly said.
He commended Nigeria for being a long-standing strong partner to the UK, saying “and I look forward to shepherding this relationship to even greater heights in the future”.