The British High Commissioner To Nigeria, Mr Paul Arkwright, has called for more participation of women in politics and greater representation in governance.
Mr Arkwright, who appeared as a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, believes it is high time women were encouraged more to run for elective offices in the country.
He said this on Thursday in commemoration of the International Women’s Day, an annual event which takes place on March 8 to celebrate the movement for women’s rights across the world.
While the issues of women’s empowerment, girl child education, and political rights have been on the front-burner in Nigeria, the British envoy said he is in the country to work with the Federal Government to improve the situation.
Explaining why the United Kingdom is so interested in the affairs of women, he said, “We take a particular interest every day of the year, not just International Women’s Day.
“Women represent 50 per cent of the population of the world, 50 per cent of the population in Nigeria; it’s incredibly a prove that women’s achievements should be celebrated.”
Mr Arkwright noted that after the UK general elections were conducted in 2017, 32 per cent of the Members of Parliament (MPs) elected are women.
He then called for more representation in Nigeria, saying: “50 per cent of the population ought to be represented by 50 per cent of the representatives of that population in parliament – we have 32 per cent (in the UK), Nigeria has 6.7 per cent.”
The British envoy further highlighted measures needed to be put in place to address the issues of women’s empowerment and representation in parliaments, as well as what can be done to lower the barriers of political participation for Nigerian women.
He advised that if women are going to be represented in a parliamentary democracy such as the National Assembly, then “we mean Nigeria should be aiming for 50 per cent of women representing 50 per cent in the population.”
Arkwright stressed: “You know women have voices in Nigeria; there are lots of very strong women who speak very eloquently about some of the challenges facing women here, but how can we improve their representation?
“I think there are a number of things that can happen … it’s about party structure, it’s about what the party is doing – at the candidate stage, at the primary stage. How do they make it easier for women to apply to become candidates – we shouldn’t shy away from some of the cultural issues that women face here in Nigeria,”
The British High Commissioner to Nigeria Mr Paul Arkwright has advised women, as well as men, to speak out against domestic violence.
He said men, just like women are equally being abused and it has become a matter of urgency to bring an end to gender-based violence of any form and stigmatisation.
He made this position known while addressing the issue on Channels Television’s Sunrise on Saturday.
He explained further that while women are victims 90 per cent of the time, men are also vulnerable to various forms of abuse.
“The prevalence of violence in the society is huge; the prevalence of violence against women and girls, in particular, is very worrying – across the world but here in Nigeria it is a particular problem.
“A lot of that is violence within the family, people that they know and I think it is time to speak out, it is time to say: this has to stop and it is really important that men say that as well as women – so this isn’t a women’s issue, this is an issue about society.
“The perpetrators of violence against women and girls are almost by definition men and I think that is something that men need to recognize and stand up and say this has got to stop.”
He, therefore, asked that government at all levels must also act quickly to stop domestic violence in whatever form.
“It is a really important debate – a difficult debate. It cuts across boundaries of culture, ethnic groups. It is a debate that really has to be brought out in the open and discussed properly and then society, the government at all levels has to take action to stop it,” he stressed.
In moving the Nigerian economy forward and alleviating the problems facing the nation, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has urged the private sector to partner with the government.
According to him, this is why one of the first legislative initiatives, was to “review all the laws that made it difficult for people to do business in our country and also those that frustrated investors willing to come into our country”.
He said this while addressing guests at the first National Chevening Alumni Leadership Summit which kicked off at the Intercontinental Hotel, Lagos, on November 18, 2016.
Calling on the Chevening alumni to take action, Mr Saraki said “we must create a system that enables the best minds to work effectively for the good of the country.
Meanwhile, the Chairman Of Channels Television, Mr John Momoh, also addressing the Nigerian situation at the event, said Nigeria is replete with some inept and corrupt leadership.
“The gap in Nigeria is indisputable, Nigeria is replete with some inept and corrupt leadership which has been exacerbated by ethnic and sectional and sometimes religious biases, but! this doesn’t imply that we have never had good leaders, he said emphatically.
“Infact we have had many good leaders and some of which are present in this room today.
“A day like this is very important as it gives us an opportunity to meet with Nigeria’s great men and women.
“This is a time for us to reconnect, to swap success stories, a happy time to spend together and even much more a time to relish the experiences and values we all share.
“This morning, we will be able to brainstorm together on a matter of national importance: the economy.
Touching on issues such as corruption, he opined that “corruption has had far-reaching repercussions, including impairing the armed forces ability to combat the Boko Haram insurgency in the North east.
He also spoke of pipeline vandalism and how activities of the Niger Delta Militants have affected the nation which once solely depended on oil.
In line with the theme of the occasion, the Channels Chairman re-iterated the roles of the Chevening alumni, in bridging the leadership gap and ultimately improving the state of the nation.
“We must live beyond our capabilities, let’s dream big, develop leadership skills, and strive to sour beyond our own personal gifts.
“Let’s not wait for things to happen – Instead, let us make things happen – Let us, as Chevening scholars initiate change.
“We must also help people to discover themselves – We should we can have our heads above the clouds But ensure that we have our feet firmly on the ground, sou that we do not alienate the people.
This according to him has been one of the short-comings of many leaders across the world.
“We must be able to lead ahead of our contemporaries – We must live deeper than our calamities” Mr Momoh challenged the alumni.
On a lighter note, the President of the Chevening Alumni Association of Nigeria (CAAN), Thomas Odemwingi, in his address of welcome, apologized on behalf of the executive, that since the inauguration of the association, it has only had few activities.
He however stated that the British High Commission, could attest to the fact that they have been involved in activities such as conducting interviews for schorlarships, for chevening programs, as well as send forth parties, among others.
He explained that the group was launched in August 2011, as a charity, while stating that the aim of the programme was to “plan what we are going to do at the different levels of governance and in the various geo-political zones”.
“For those of you that are being involved in one assignment or the other, I would like you to be very committed to this, so that at the end of the day, we would pass on the baton to a new generation”, Mr Odemwingi charged the guests”.
He stated that one of the achievements of the association was that it had “successfully made a progamme proposal for Chevening alumni programme funds.
The association president, went ahead to commend a number of people for their immense contributions to the association.
Organisers of the event restated that the Chevening / U.K government global scholarship programme, is aimed at individuals with strong academic and leadership potentials, to network extensively and study for a fully funded masters programme in the United Kingdom.
In his address, the British High Commissioner, Paul Ark wright, described the occasion as an “exciting new chapter in the story of this wonderful U.K/ Nigeria Partnership”.
Recalling the “spirits of the chevening awards” Mr Wright said:
“Chevening is a global programme that awards fully funded masters, to people who demonstrate full leadership potential.
“It is a phenomenal opportunity and the competition is fierce, none more so than here in Nigeria, where Chevening attracted more applicants than many other countries worldwide, last year.
Highlighting some of the problems faced by Nigerians, such as the economic recession and attempts to create a more diversified and inclusive government, he sxpressed that:
“The U.K is firmly committed to supporting these efforts”.
He also stated that part of the desires of the Chevening programme, is to empower Nigerians such that the problems being faced in the country, are not only solved by external forces but by Nigerians themselves, having acquired the necessary Knowledge and skills.
Mr Arkwright expressed appreciation towards guests which comprised alumni, industry experts among others.
The Nigerian government has pledged its readiness to tackle the environmental challenges in the country in order to ensure a safer environment for all persons.
Speaking in Abuja at the 2016 annual conference of the Nigerian Environmental Society, the Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed says the government remains committed to diversifying the nation’s economy by reclaiming deserts for agricultural purpose.
The Minister informed the gathering of the federal government’s resolve to tackle issues of environmental challenges in addition to diversifying the nation’s economy.
“As you are all aware, this administration is highly committed to addressing issues concerning our environment. The federal ministry of environment is driving a new narrative of empowering people, taking climate action and protecting the environment as a whole and it also remains one of the key pillars of the change agenda of this administration”.
The president of the Nigerian Environmental Society, Professor Lawrence Ezemonye, takes advantage of the occasion to appeal to the National Assembly to hasten the passage of the institute of environmental practice bill in order to address issues of quackery in the profession.
“We seek the support of the federal government, the National Assembly, stakeholders and all present today to support the passage into law, the bill for the Institute of Environmental Practitioners of Nigeria. This is what we are looking for. This is our plight.”
The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Paul Arkwright, called for a global synergy that will ensure the protection of the environment for generations unborn as he announces the financial commitment of Britain to the fight against climate change.
“As of September 2015, 62 million UK pounds from the UK’s Global Environmental Fund and Clean Technology had been put to projects in Nigeria to support adaptation and the wider fight against climate change.”
Although environmental challenges are said to be huge, the annual conference of the Nigerian Environmental Society is expected to produce a road map that will guarantee the protection of the environment and the promotion of a green economy.
As part of efforts to stem the tide of corruption through speedy trial of suspects, the federal government has developed a national policy on prosecution.
The Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, announced the new policy at a meeting of attorney generals in Abuja where they converged from the 36 states of the federation to discuss how to improve the justice sector.
Mr Malami said that the adoption and implementation of the policy by state authorities will fast-track the prosecution of corruption and criminal cases.
The Minister appealed to states to accept the federal government’s vision of tackling corruption by establishing special anti-corruption units.
He advocated the restoration of public confidence in the justice sector through the speedy prosecution of cases.
The Country Representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Cristina Albertin, also outlined the role of prosecutors in the fight against corruption.
At a separate meeting on the London summit on Anti-Corruption, the Minister of Justice pledged government’s commitment to accountability and transparency as a means of stemming corruption.
The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, confirmed government’s resolve to run an open government just as the Deputy British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Simon Shercliff, advised political leaders to lead by example.
The British government has promised to work together with the Nigerian Senate in areas of capacity building, economic management and security.
The British High Commissioner, Dr Andrew Poccok, made this commitment when he met with the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki in the National Assembly.
The High Commissioner, who also used the opportunity to congratulate Bukola Saraki on his emergence as the Senate President, said his country will continue to work harmoniously with the Nigerian Senate.
Britain is the first nation to pledge support for the Senate since Saraki’s emergence as the leader.
Senator Saraki was elected unopposed as the President of Nigeria’s 8th Senate with 57 lawmakers present, while 51 were absent.
There have been issues surrounding the emergence of Saraki as the leader in the absence of up to 51 lawmakers.
The British government has pledged its full assistance and mutual collaboration with the Nigeria Police Force in tackling the crimes of terrorism, kidnapping, piracy and other related crimes
The partnership is the contribution of the British government in ongoing efforts at addressing the current security challenges in Nigeria.
The pledge was made on Wednesday at the Force Headquarters in Abuja during a meeting between the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Muhammed Abubakar and the British High Commissioner, Dr Andrew Pocock.
At the end of the meeting, the High Commissioner said the British Government would assist the Nigeria Police in the areas of capacity building especially as it relates to acquiring requisite skills in general investigation, scene of crime management, counter-terrorism, bomb diffusion/disposal and tracking of kidnappers.
The IGP thanked the British government for its age-long support for the Nigeria Police and pledged the commitment of the Force to mutual sharing of intelligence that would be of benefit to both countries in areas of security and law enforcement.
He further promised that the Nigeria Police would continue to provide necessary support and relevant background information that would help in tackling the challenges of identity theft, visa fraud and other forms of criminalities in both countries.
The IGP, who described the relationship between the Nigeria Police and its British counterparts as a “mutually rewarding one”, promised that both countries would work hard to preserve and promote the long-standing partnership.
President Goodluck Jonathan said Friday in Abuja that the Federal Government will continue to work with Britain and other developed nations to promote good governance, political stability and socio- economic development in Nigeria and other African nations. Speaking at a meeting with the outgoing British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Andrew Lloyd who was on a farewell visit to the Presidential Villa, President Jonathan reaffirmed his Administration’s commitment to evolving and implementing policies and measures that will help Nigeria to successfully overcome present challenges.
The President noted that the already excellent bilateral relations between Nigeria and Great Britain had been significantly enhanced during Mr. Lloyd’s tenure.
He commended the High Commissioner’s efforts to boost trade and economic cooperation between Nigeria and Britain. The high-point of which, he said, was Prime Minister David Cameron’s visit to Nigeria with a delegation of British business men and investors.
“We shall continue to count on your support and I hope your successor will continue your good work here in Nigeria,” President Jonathan told Mr. Lloyd.
The President also received the outgoing Egyptian Ambassador to Nigeria, Youssef Hassan Shawki who is leaving the country after a two-year tenure.
President Jonathan expressed the hope that Nigeria and Egypt will continue to build-up and expand areas of bilateral cooperation.
He wished Mr. Shawki well in his future endeavours and urged him to now consider himself a life-long Ambassador of Nigeria to Egypt and the rest of the world.