By BOLUWAJI OBAHOPO
LOKOJA – The Britain High Commissioner to Nigeria, His excellency, Paul Thomas Arkwright has said Nigeria should look inward and stop blaming its colonial master for its lack of industrial development.
Arkwright said with Brexit, the relationship of Britain will change with Nigeria for the better as Britain will no longer be a parent to Nigeria but become a partner with it.
Arkwright who stated this in Lokoja yesterday while delivering a lecture at the Federal University, Lokoja on the theme; “BREXIT: Lessons, Challenges and Opportunites for Nigeria” also said the UK is not afraid to face the challenges of what Brexit will cause.
Speaking on the industrial drive of Nigeria, Arkwright said, “You have the federal government, state and local government. You have human capital resources, you have the money. It is not the British that determine how you appropriate and spend these resources.
“In Nigeria for every situation, the country will come up with two Committees, different commissions and commence many legs of addressing the situation. But the problem is, its only theoretical and nothing practical will be taken to addressed such situation.
“The UK is ready to partner with the country to support its education, trade and security partnership. But Nigeria will still have to make ways for its technological drive on his own”.
He said the country will also have to deal with corruption, as corruption is causing a setback for British investors to come to Nigeria,” It is not only by arresting big names and sending them to jail. It is about dealing with the corrosive nature of corruption that occurs in everyday Nigeria.
“This must be done through building of institutions that will outlive even the President and become a yardstick in measuring transparency and accountability and future dealings of Nigeria everyday living”.
Arkwright who said the UK is already working towards releasing the stollen funds lodged in their country by corrupt Nigerian leaders however said, Nigeria has to wait as there are legal processes involve that must first be sorted out before the release.
The high commissioner who said the UK is the largest European overseas investor in Africa and the second largest globally said, in the next five years through UK, 5.8million children in Africa will be supported to gain decent education; 23.7 million Africa to get access to clean water and sanitation, while 31.2million women and adolescent children will receive nutritional support.
“Our bilateral trade relationship is still worth €£3.8Bn per annum. Shell, a British – Dutch company still has invested billions of pounds into Nigeria and has around sixty onshore or sallow water oilfields and seven hundred wells. Shell still owns approximately one third of oil produce in Nigeria. Nigeria remains the largest oil producing country in Africa , inspite of the depressed price of oil at this time. The historical and cultural links between Nigeria and the UK, the common language of English that the vast majority of Nigerians speak, the strong educational business link don’t change.
“The UK has been among the leaders of the international response to humanitarian crisis in the north-east of Nigeria. We scaled up funding from £1M in 2014 to £74m I 2016. We delivered food assistance to 1million people and treats 34,000 children at risk of death from under- nourishment. We provided essential household items to more than 225,000 people who fled from their homes and provided more than 135,000 people access to clean water and sanitation
“I think what happens here to Nigeria and the choices made by the Nigerian government will be more important for the Nigerian economy than whatever Brexit may mean to Nigerian, I am optimistic for the UK, I am optimistic for Nigeria. And I see the high calibre of Nigerian business elite. I know many Nigerian youth are enterprising and can – do. It is not oil or gas that are Nigeria’s most important resources but its people. The human capital that Nigeria has – Nigerians themselves and their drive, determination and ability to get things done often when facing challenges – are what make me optimistic about Nigeria future.”
The commissioner however call on Nigeria to relax its tight nuzzle on Visa access, saying it is also militating against their investors coming to Nigeria.
He said contrary to speculation that British visa could not be easily got, out of the 140,000 visa applications received from Nigeria in 2015, 99.9 percent of those who applied for students visa and 70 percent of others secured application successfully.
On Brexit outcome on the world, he said, “Brexit decision was momentous. It leads to change. And more detail about that change is still uncertain. But UK is ready to deal with it. Nothing much as change, not much will change. There will be no attempt to remain inside the EU. There will be no attempt to rejoin the EU by other means. And there will be no second referendum. The priority is to regain our control of the numbers of people who come to the UK from Europe, while allowing British companies to trade with the EU’s Single Market in good and services. The relationship will be one that allows for real and long term security cooperation, to help prevent and combat the kind of attacks we have seen by terrorists in Europe, Nigeria and most recently London on the Houses of parliament.
“British’s departure from European Union does not mean we are leaving Europe. It does mean creating new forms of relations with our European partners. The task will be complex, and we are confident can be conducted within two years allowed in our Treaty obligation with the European Union. In that time, British government will be focused on getting the best outcome, not the quickest one.
“Anyone who interpreted the referendum result as the UK retreating from the world, could not be more mistaken. Britain is as committed as ever to working with our international partners to achieve a saver, healthier and more prosperous planet. The UK will continue to live up to its responsibilities as a permanent members of the UN security council. Our engagement to NATO member is steadfast.
“Our contribution through membership of the G7 and G20 will remain constructive and crucial to global stability. The UK’s undertaking to spend 0.7 of Gross National Income on international development and 2 percent of GDP on defence ”
Mr Arkwright said the Brexit which has already commenced with the triggering of Article 50 will see to four cardinal points: of honouring the democracy mandate of the British people, creating a new relationship with Europe, forging a new role for Britain in there world and what it means for Nigeria and its economy