Niger Delta Crisis: British High Commissioner Advocates Political Solution, Commends FG

Niger Delta Crisis: British High Commissioner Advocates Political Solution, Commends FG The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, has commended the Federal Government for its readiness to dialogue with the people of the Niger Delta, in seeking political, rather than military solutions to the problems in the region.

This was his position as he spoke on Channels Television’s breakfast show, Sunrise Daily, while analysing the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo’s recent visit to the Gbaramatu Kingdom, in Delta state.

“What I saw in that visit, is a Federal Government that is ready to engage with the people of the Delta, which is looking out for dialogue and political settlement as the way out.

“I think it is symptomatic of the willingness of the Federal Government, to engage and I hope that they continue with that.

“As I have said in the past, I do not believe that a military solution to what has happened in the Niger Delta is viable in any way – a political solution is what is necessary.

“For a political settlement to really take roots, there needs to be dialogue and discussion, maybe disagreement; but also agreement – we need to talk to each other and that’s why I was particularly encouraged by the visit of the Vice President.”

The Gambia

Meanwhile, Mr Arkwright, who was also speaking on the recent developments in the Gambian election, stated that the United Kingdom would give its full support in ensuring a peaceful transition of power in the west African nation.

The British High Commissioner, says the UK has recognized Adama Barrow as the new President of the Gambia.

Although he stated that the United Kingdom hopes to avoid any kind of military intervention, he explained that if it comes to that point, the UK would not hesitate to offer its full support.

“Just last night, the security council in New York agreed a resolution, supporting the new president, calling for the former president to stand down, saying that all political measures should be exhausted first, but recognising that a military intervention may be necessary.

“If that military intervention is necessary, it would have the full support of the United Kingdom; as we voted in favour of that resolution.

“We join all countries in hoping that a peaceful solution would be the actual outcome of this crisis.”

He then added that: “In line with the constitution and with respect to the views of the people of the Gambia, former President Jammeh, should now stand down to avoid any violence or bloodshed.

“We hope that these negotiations which are currently going on in Banjul would result in a peaceful outcome.

“It’s important for the new president to take up his office and to start to implement his programme because that’s what he was voted in to do.”

The British High Commissioner therefore reiterated the UK’s support for Barrow, while also appealing to the former president to stand down in order to ensure a peaceful transition.

Speaking on the withdrawal of the Gambia from the Common Wealth of Nations, Mr Arkwright described the common wealth as a family of nations and according to him, Jammeh left the family.

This, he said, did not come to him as a surprise because according to him, the former president had been “unpredictable” and he had made such pronouncements in the past.

He however stated that he is very pleased that the new President, Adama Barrow has promised to re-instate the nation in the common wealth.

“The fact that we now have a more stable government in place, with a president who has a much more responsible international view than his predecessor, gives hope that the Gambia would move back into the common wealth.

Furthermore, he commended the efforts of ECOWAS in trying to push Yayah Jammeh to relinquish power.

“It’s a very important role that ECOWAS has played in this crisis,” Arkwright said.

Brexit: Paul Arkwright Dismisses Possibility Of Second Referendum

Paul Arkwright on British Exit from European Union - BrexitThe British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, has dismissed the chances of holding another referendum that may reconsider Britain’s decision to exit from the European Union, insisting that the nation has to look forward.

Mr Arkwright told Channels Television on Wednesday that the outcome of the referendum was clear.

Over 33 million people in the United Kingdom had voted in the June 24 referendum on whether to exit from the European Union or not.

“Massive Exercise In Democracy”

While 51.9 per cent voted to leave 48.1 per cent voted to remain. After the decision, a group of persons have been pushing a campaign for a second referendum, but the British High Commissioner insisted that Britons had made a choice.

“I don’t think there will be a second referendum. This is a once in a generation opportunity for the United Kingdom to vote on this huge issue.

“Those that think it was a mistake must be part of the 48 per cent that voted to remain in the EU.

“I think we need to look forward.

“It was a massive exercise in democracy.

“That is a very significant number and the outcome is pretty clear,” he explained.

On why the decision was made, he said different people have different reasons for voting to leave.

“A lot of the people felt two much sovereignty has been conceded to the European Union.

“There were concerns around control of the borders. Immigration was one of the big issues that came up.

“That is a very clear instruction that the British government will carry out and like any good civil servant, that is part of my job as well,” he explained.

On the next step that would be taken, Mr Arkwright said the British government would need to work out the complicated negotiations which would involve a ‘divorce settlement’ between the United Kingdom and the European Union.

“We need a new Prime Minister because Mr Cameron has resigned. Once the new Prime Minister is in place, then the process will start and the button will be pressed and the article 50 will get into place.”

The British High Commissioner to Nigeria further stressed that the fundamentals of the UK were still there. “The economy is still strong. We are still very much an international player. A permanent member of the Security Council and lots of other international organisation.

“I don’t think that the standing of the UK has been diminished by this thought. But I think it shows that we an an independent nation and that is the choice of the people,” he stressed.

Article 50 will trigger a process that could last up to two years, a period he said the status quo would be maintained.

“We will remain a member of the European Union. All the rights and obligations as a member of the EU will remain and all those that have the right to study in the UK will remain. But what happens after that will depend on the type of relationship the kind of negotiations that will take place in the next two years,” he stated.

Mr Arkwright also pointed out that businesses would continue as they had in the UK and that the fundamentals of the British economy were still there.

“Britain remains open for business and there are plenty opportunities of doing business in the UK and the British government will maintain the excellent business environment which has enabled businesses to do well so far in the UK,” he reiterated.

Niger Delta Avengers: Britain Cautions FG Over Military Option

Niger Delta Avengers, Niger Delta, MILITARY OPTIONThe British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, has cautioned the federal government over military option as a measure to tackle the resurgence of militancy and other criminality in the Niger Delta region.

The British High Commissioner was speaking in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, shortly after his courtesy visit to the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo.

He also advocated for dialogue as part of a comprehensive approach that should be adopted by Nigerian government to address the situation, adding that force alone may not bring about a lasting solution to the Niger Delta issue.

The Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), an armed militant group, and other violent youth organisations have been launching violent attacks on oil and gas facilities in the Niger Delta area.

Early on Friday, the Niger Delta Avengers militant group claimed three new attacks in the Niger Delta region.

The group said through its Twitter account that it had blown up a pipeline in Bayelsa State owned by Italy’s ENI, hours after attacks on another ENI pipeline as well as one belonging to Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd (SPDC).

This is sequel to several other attacks they have carried out in recent weeks resulting in international oil companies shutting down their facilities and consequently a drop in the country’s revenue from oil.

The action has forced the federal government to respond by deploying troops to the area’s creeks to stop the alleged destruction of national economic assets and spate of sabotage being perpetrated there by the region’s restive youths.

Britain To Partner Nigeria In Development

Paul Arkwright, Britain, NigeriaBritain has assured Nigeria of its partnership in developing critical aspects of the nation such as economy, job creation and human capital development.

The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, stated this during his visit to the Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, on Thursday in Abeokuta, the state’s capital.

He said that the British government was working on how to further advance its business interests in Nigeria and boost trade relationship by supporting both the federal and state governments.

Addressing his guest and his team, Governor Amosun assured Mr Arkwright of the state government’s readiness to collaborate with the British government in all areas of human interest.

‘We Will Rebuild Nigeria,’ Buhari Tells British MPs

Chi Onwurah and UK Member of Parliament British MPsPresident Muhammadu Buhari has assured some British Members of Parliament that his government would rebuild Nigeria, but emphasised Nigeria’s expectations from Britain in the rebuilding process.

Receiving a team of British Members of Parliament led by a Nigerian, Honourable Chi Onwurah, at State House, Abuja, on Tuesday, President Buhari declared: “We are going to rebuild Nigeria, and there are vast opportunities for Britain and us.

Harping on the affinity shared by the two countries, President Buhari said: “We share very close ties, and our expectation from you is high”.

“Cheap Money”

A statement by the spokesman for the President, Femi Adesina, said the Nigerian leader lamented that his nation had found itself in a phase of development, “which is not a very welcome one”.

“We are disorganised because we relied on mono-economic product for too long, and now that oil price is down, we have to go back to agriculture and solid minerals.

“Tin, columbite, cocoa, groundnut, and others, used to be the basis of our economy, but then, oil came, and everybody began to look for cheap money.

“Now, we need to start all over again,” President Buhari stressed.

Honourable Onwurah, Nigerian-born MP for Newcastle, told reporters after the meeting that the team was in Nigeria “to promote positive engagement between Nigeria and the UK, since we are stronger when we build on ties of the past.”

She said her team was interested in how the Diaspora could support the economic progress of Nigeria, as well as promotion of trade and diversification of the economy.

Also on the delegation were Rt. Honurable Laurence Robertson, another Nigerian, Honourable Ms Kate Osamor and the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Paul Arkwright.

Chief Justice Advocates Legal And Institutional Reforms

Chief Justice of NigeriaThe Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mahmud Mohammed, has called for legal and institutional reforms to combat financial and cybercrimes.

Justice Mohammed made the call on Tuesday at the annual conference on ‘Financial Fraud, Cybercrime and Cross Border Crimes’ held in Abuja.

He said that any inaction to reform the judicial system could endanger Nigeria’s future growth and stability.

However, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said that more anti-corruption bills would soon be forwarded to the National Assembly.

On his part, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, urged the National Assembly to pass into law, the proceeds of corruption bill which he said would speed up the reparation of stolen assets to Nigeria.

Both representatives from the financial institutions and the Nigeria judicial system were present at the conference to find a common solution to the problem of financial and cybercrimes.

Nigeria Seeks Partnership With UK To End Crude Oil Theft

Nigeria Seeks Partnership With UK To End Crude Oil TheftNigeria is seeking partnership with the British Government to combat crude oil theft through the tracking of movement of ships by the Global Insurance Company, Lloyds of London.

The Federal Government sought the partnership at a meeting with a delegation from the UK, led by the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, on Tuesday.

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Khadija Ibrahim, at the meeting said Nigeria’s major areas of interest for partnership were economic development, corruption and security.

Mrs Ibrahim said that oil and gas had been the main areas in which the United Kingdom and Nigeria have had a lot of trade relationship. But unfortunately, now that the price of the crude oil has gone down, Nigeria is seeking to diversify in areas of agriculture and mining.

“We seek more trade relationships with the United Kingdom in the areas of agriculture and mining.

“There is no sound economy without security in the country, no investors will come to a country where there is consistent war and terrorism, no investor will be safe with insecurity and terrorism.

“Since the Boko Haram insurgency, there’s been less investment in Nigeria, but with the assistance of the United Kingdom, I think it will come a long way in helping to assist Nigeria in fighting Boko Haram menace,” she said.

The British High Commissioner, however, said that the British Government was working on returning stolen assets to Nigeria and was already encouraging investors to come to Nigeria while work is on to stop the insurgency in the north.

“Personally, we are looking forward to cooperating with Nigerian Government by bringing together Lloyds of London and the Nigerian Government to see what we can do in that area.

“On the economy, part of my job is to encourage British investors to come to Nigeria to invest in the country, to create jobs and employment.

“We are hopeful that the new economy team will provide the right economic environment and send a right signal and message that will encourage investors to come to Nigeria,” he said.

Mr Arkwright, further said that the oil theft issue would be looked into.

We Will Correct Past Neglect Of Science And Technology – Buhari

Muhammadu-Buhari-at-meeting-with-Nigerian-officialsNigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, has assured the Ministry of Science and Technology that his administration would take concrete actions to correct the neglect of research, science and technology by past governments.

President Buhari made the pledge in Abuja on Monday after receiving a brief on the activities of the ministry.

He declared that his administration would dedicate more resources and energy to the sector “because no country could make progress without serious commitment to the development of science and technology”.

Buhari also said that he would fully encourage the work of the Ministry of Science and Technology, as innovations from the various research institutes under its supervision could also impact positively on industrial development and manufacturing in Nigeria.

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita, enumerated several challenges hindering its effectiveness, including perennial poor funding and the lack of recognition on the part of successive governments of science and technological innovation as a major driver of economic development.

Mrs Oyo-Ita told the President that the focus of the Ministry had moved from academic research to market-based innovative research, aimed at boosting industrialisation.

The Permanent Secretary asked for more support and political will from the Federal Government to encourage scientific research, innovation and local manufacturing.

President Buhari also received the outgoing British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Andrew Pocock, and the outgoing Swiss Ambassador, Mr Hans-Rudolf Hodel.

The President thanked both envoys for their efforts to strengthen relations between Nigeria and their respective countries, also wishing them success in their future assignments.

The former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Sir Shridath Ramphal, who is in Nigeria on a visit, also paid a courtesy call on the President.

UK Plans To Offer Nigeria Help On Insecurity, Economy, Others

UK commissioner to Nigeria Andrew Pocock

The United Kingdom (UK) is working on a plan it will present to the new Nigerian government aimed at assisting the oil-rich nation in tackling insecurity, corruption and growing the economy. 

The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Andrew Pocock, told Channels Television on Wednesday that top officials of the British government had met to discuss very ambitious offer the British government planned to make to the new Nigerian government.

Mr Pocock said the help, as it relates with the economy, would focus on needed restructuring and management to ensure Nigerians benefit more from the democratic dispensation.

He said the transition on May 29 was a political earthquake and a remarkable development that has placed Nigeria among mature democracies.

Great Corruption Cocoon

“On the development programme, we are already very active here but we have catalytic ideas for what might be done, particularly in the north-east and right across the country.

“For helping President Buhari address one of his core themes, which is corruption and indeed more than just corruption. Organised crime, which not only damages the reputation of Nigeria but exports harms to its neighbours and indeed to Europe. There are many routines here that we are looking forward to starting.

“What we would need to do is work closely with the Federal authorities – the EFCC, Federal Police and the Nigerian government – in other aspects to learn as much as we can about what they need and we will help as will other administrations in Europe and the United States to try and trace stolen funds,” he said.

On how the British government would assist in the fight against corruption, Mr Pocock emphasised that what was needed was to break up the systems, routines, organisations and individuals that contribute to the leaching of Nigerian public money oversea.

He also said that the most important aspect of the anti-corruption war would be to assault the mentality that regards public money as a free good by picking areas of primary focus and zero in on them.

“If you are looking at reforming the oil sector, it might do to look at revenue diversion – money that never reaches the Federation Account, never mind oil theft.

“To break up the great corruption cocoon into project size bytes in which you can focus on particular difficulties.

“If you begin to show that impunity is no longer the norm, things will begin to click in a different direction,” the British envoy said.

On the situation in Nigeria’s north-east, Mr Pocock stressed that Security response was essential in the north-east but should not be considered as a single solution to the challenge.

He suggested that while the Nigerian Army needed to approach the insecurity as effective a way as possible, Nigeria would need to get its politics right, pointing out that for too long, the Federal and State Governments had been at loggerheads.

“You need a more grown up form of politics.

“You need an element of economic uplift, people up there need hope and prospect of employment.

“You need to address the dire humanitarian situation that almost 2 million people are internally displaced,” he said.

The British High Commissioner to Nigeria further urged the Nigerian government to liaise more with neighbouring countries in the fight against the Boko Haram sect which has been terrorising communities in the north-east for over five years, with its activities spreading to neighbouring countries.


UK £3,000 Visa Bond Under Review- British High Commissioner

The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Andrew Pocock, has once again cleared the air on the controversy surrounding a proposed UK government’s bond on visa applicants from some countries, including Nigeria.

He clarified that, ‘the visa bond, as it is being called here, is not a £3,000 charge for a British visa. That is not the case, it is not going to happen now and it is not going to happen in the future. Visa fee, which is what you pay for a visa, will not go to £3,000 or anywhere near it.’

Pocock also explained that there are plans to influence the inflow of more Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) from British companies into Nigeria.

He said this after ringing the closing bell  at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) in Lagos.

The United Kingdom is reviewing its plan to introduce a £3,000 visa bond scheme.

“We have made it very clear to our government in London that there is concern about this. So, this is being reviewed and considered in London as we speak now.” he said

He further said the visa bond is yet to be approved and if even its approved it will only apply to a very minute number of the over 150, 000 Nigerians that will apply for UK visas.

He also said while there were security concerns in Nigeria, they were not overwhelming in many respects and could be managed.

He said the British government will not jeopardize diplomatic ties with Nigeria with any move that will call the relationship between both nations to question.

The British government had proposed a new scheme under which some visitors from six commonwealth countries, including Nigeria, would be asked to pay a £3,000 cash bond in return for visas that allows them to stay in the UK for up to six months.

Other countries include India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Ghana.

New British Envoy Calls For More National Discourse On Corruption

The new British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Andrew Pocock has appealed to Nigerians to engage in more national debates where challenges of corruption and good governance can be addressed.

The envoy noted that there is no magic process to eradicate corruption from the society, “Nigerians can raise the intensity of these issues through more national conversations and also insists on equitable distribution.”

Mr Pocock made this known while speaking during his first media parley with diplomatic correspondents in Abuja following his assumption of office as the British High Commissioner to Nigeria.

He said the key areas of focus is to increase British Nigeria trade from what it is at present and also for Britain to play a more active role in tackling terrorism within Nigeria and the West-African sub-region.