Nigeria must be recognised as an important partner, say UK MPs

African nation is on 'forefront of change' on the continent, new report says

The Houses of Parliament are silhouetted under a cloudy sky, in London, Friday, Sept.  17, 2021. AP Photo
Powered by automated translation

Nigeria is an ideal trading partner for the UK and plans must be put in place to develop a future partnership with the developing African nation, British politicians have said.

The UK's Foreign Affairs Committee has described the nation as the "forefront of change" in Africa in its new report, Lagos calling: Nigeria and the Integrated Review.

MPs released the document as part of the Integrated Review, a report that lays out the government’s plans for a ‘Global Britain’. Nigeria was identified as one of the countries it could work with in partnership, alongside Kenya, South Africa, Ethiopia and Ghana.

The committee found that Nigeria's projected growth, increasing economic capabilities and cultural weight made it a natural partner for the UK in years to come, particularly in the fields of science and technology.

The report said the government should outline "realistic and measurable objectives for the UK’s engagement with Nigeria over the next five to 10 years".

Nigeria, which was under British rule until 1960, has a sizeable diaspora and significant historic links with Britain.

MPs called on the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to approach citizens, NGOs, companies, and governments of the UK and Nigeria to help build relationships in these key sectors. The report also encouraged skills building in IT, legal systems and the Nigerian Civil Service to help with this.

The report noted that the country continued to suffer from internal security challenges, and recommended "continued and highly focused" support to the Nigerian military as it tackled extremist groups.

Alleviation of climate change and habitat loss was another shared objective between the two nations.

The report urged the FCDO to assist with climate initiatives within the region, such as the Great Green Wall, an ambitious project that could see an 8,000-kilometre wall of trees planted in the Sahel region to help with deforestation.

The UK government could also provide public and private sector finance to help with climate adaptation and mitigation, and support "low-carbon ventures, such as renewable power solutions and the establishment of the Nigerian green-tech sector".

The Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Tom Tugendhat MP, said: “Nigeria is at the forefront of change in Africa. Its thriving film and music scene, tech innovation and multiple opportunities for investment, there is much to admire and value. The enthusiasm of the diaspora here in the UK is infectious and remains untapped.

“Today, we call on the FCDO to sharpen its focus and recognise the importance of Nigeria to the UK, not just in the region but as a global partner to build a safe and prosperous future. By bringing together the instruments of diplomacy, trade and aid, there is much to benefit all of us.

"In a new era of global politics, the UK must look across the world for partnerships – in today’s report, we urge the FCDO to recognise Nigeria for the global partner it could be.”

Updated: April 28, 2022, 11:41 PM