The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, has reiterated his government’s commitment to supporting Nigeria’s electoral system ahead of 2019 general elections.
Arkwright stated this on Wednesday in Abuja during his appearance on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.
“The (electoral) process is very important and that is why the British government has been supporting the process all the way through and this is an important milestone on the road to 2019,” he said.
Arkwright’s comments come four days after the Ekiti State Governorship election that was keenly contested between the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr Kayode Fayemi and that of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Professor Kolapo Olusola.
In Saturday’s election, Fayemi was declared the winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the keenly contested poll.
The programme, which also featured the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, and two others, aimed at reviewing the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) which held recently in London.
“The fact is if you talk to any economist who understands the way developing counties emerge from poverty into a state where they are no longer developing but developed countries, the one key thing that turns them from developing to developed countries is competitive exports,” Mr Arkwright said.
He said while the Commonwealth tries to reduce the barriers faced by developing countries in the area of trade, it does not mean that they would be flooded with cheap goods from other countries.
The British High-Commissioner stressed that the developing nations have no other option than to trade in a global world.
He noted that leaders of the 53 Commonwealth nations who attended CHOGM 2018 made very important and relevant commitments.
Arkwright added that the organisation would continue to be more relevant, as CHOGM was about increasing intra-commonwealth trade by facilitating trade among member-countries.
According to him, the world trade has increased enormously and the trade between two Commonwealth countries is 20 per cent cheaper, compared with the trade with non-commonwealth countries.
The British Envoy added that there has been a massive trade among the member-countries, pointing out that the trade between the United Kingdom and Nigeria is huge.
On the gains of CHOGM 2018, he said the commonwealth is not just about the UK but it is a family of nations and every member-nation stands the chance of equal benefit.
The British High-Commissioner, Mr Paul Arkwright, and the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, are currently reviewing the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2018.
Others at the interview are the Jamaican Acting High-Commissioner, Mr John Clarke, and a former Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Joe Keshi.
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, 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.
“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.”
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, saysthe 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.
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.
The 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.
The 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.
British monarch, Queen Elizabeth the second has commiserated with the Crown Prince and the people of Benin Kingdom on the death of the Benin monarch, Oba Erediauwa.
In a letter to Crown Prince, Eheneden Erediauwa made available to Channels Television, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Paul Arkwright, on behalf of the queen and the government as well as the people of the United Kingdom, extended his condolences.
“As we mourn his passage, we take solace in the knowledge that his reign was peaceful and witnessed a strengthening of the relationship and good friendship between the people of Benin Kingdom and the UK”, he said.
The Edo State Government had issued a statement announcing the death of the Oba of Benin in April 2016.
The statement, however, did not say when and how the monarch died.
Read full statement below.
“Our hearts are heavy, laden with pains and grief, at the announcement of the passing on to glory of Omo n’Oba n’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Erediauwa of Benin, our highly revered Oba, a distinguished Edo numero uno, an accomplished Nigerian, a seasoned bureaucrat, quintessential unifier, unique personage and exemplary Omo N’Oba, whose reign brought distinction, immense class, finesse and integrity to traditional institution in Edo state and the country at large.
“His carriage comes with an élan that was peculiar with the reverence of royalty. His uncommon courage was symbolic of the can-do spirit of the Edo mind. His unity of purpose was not in doubt even as he used his revered position to promote constructive engagement amongst all shades of opinion and culture in Edo state.
“As a thorough-bred bureaucrat, rising to the pinnacle of his career as a Federal Permanent Secretary, he understood the dynamics and intricacies of governance. He was the alternative voice to the many voiceless in our society, calling government attention to issues of development and transparent governance, without minding whose ox is gored. He was brave, fearless, punchy and instructive in his verbal and written messages.
“To us at the Edo state Government, he was our strongest supporter; both in his uncommon faith in our ability and his readiness to offer uncommon advice to sharpen public discourse in our shared commitment to transform Edo state. It gladdens our heart, therefore, that our revered Oba was alive to witness the positive transformation of Edo state under his reign, and for standing with us through thick and thin in the course of making the Edo economy a treasure to behold. Being part of that eloquent history of transformation before his reunion with his ancestors gives us further reassurance that he will occupy a special pride of place in the hereafter.
“We are enveloped with a deep sense of nostalgia that our great Oba, a great-grandfather, grandfather, father, uncle and iconoclastic royal father of exemplary carriage and conduct, who sustained the dignity of the average Edo mind, has joined his ancestors. We are, however, encouraged by the fact that another great son of the Great Benin Kingdom, His Royal Highness, Edaiken N’Uselu, Crown Prince Eheneden Erediauwa, who is already showing manifest quintessential attributes of his great father, will step into his father’s big shoes.
“Edo people will miss our iconoclastic royal father of the great Benin Kingdom. Nigerians and Nigeria will miss this great exemplar of a Royal Father, an Oba of distinction and integrity. Adieu until we meet to part no more.
The British government has promised to partner with the Cross River State Government on the realisation of the Garment Factory initiative which is one of the signature projects of the State Governor, Ben Ayade.
British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, made the partnership known on Monday at Governor Ayade’s office in Calabar, Cross River State’s capital.
The High Commissioner said that the project would develop skills and create entrepreneurs from the state.
Creating Thousands Of Jobs
Mr Arkwright and Governor Ayade proceeded to the garment factory site alongside his entourage to access the level of work done.
Encouraged by the level of work done by the contractors, the High Commissioner promised to bring in British expertise that would help realise the goals of the project to develop skills and vocations which would in turn, improve business opportunities in Cross River State.
Governor Ayade, in his response, expressed gratitude towards the partnership which for him, would be a dream come true.
The Governor added that the partnership between the two countries would translate into creating thousands of jobs for the unemployed youths in the state.
He said that the State would commission the project on April 1.
Nigeria 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.