From Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, has said that the Federal Government looks forward to cooperate with the United Kingdom (UK) regarding the security of the West African sub-region.
Onyeama stated this when he received in audience, the United Kingdom Minister for Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Vicky Ford, on a courtesy visit in Abuja.
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Ford is on a three-day visit to Nigeria to take forward, ongoing efforts by both countries to build on the UK-Nigeria partnership and strengthen strong security, anti-corruption and economic ties.
While in Nigeria, Ford will meet with the Federal Government of Nigeria, State Governors, as well as faith leaders, civil society and business leaders.
Onyeama who expressed gratitude to the Government of the United Kingdom for the extensive and significant support in diverse areas, stated that the West African sub-region is facing huge security challenges, including governance challenges.
He noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a big hit on the economies of the world and also expressed profound gratitude to the United Kingdom for support during the period, particularly vaccines and other support in the area of health.
Onyeama added that the United Kingdom has been involved in the security of the West African sub-region, saying that a lot is going on in the sub-region, particularly in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso with the support of the United Nations.
“So, we look forward to continue to cooperate with you in this area because we feel that it is not something that we can do alone in the sub-region.
“We need the United Nations’ support and also the support of European countries. We have been engaged and in the framework of the G5 Sahel and other initiatives,” Onyeama said.
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On her part, Ford recalled the detailed defence and security meetings which took place in London two weeks ago between security advisers of both countries.
Ford said the meetings were to really see how the United Kingdom can help in the partnership to strengthen some of the challenges Nigeria faced in terms of security.
“So, I am looking forward to helping to build on that and continue to see that works during my time here,” Ford said.
Speaking further on the specific assistance the United Kingdom plans to render Nigeria, Ford said the United Kingdom will be discussing with the Nigerian Government, how to help in community policing, training and improving the police because the police can help the community feel safer.
Ford however emphasised that the move is a partnership and not the United Kingdom telling Nigeria what to do.
“This was us listening, sharing experiences, especially from the national security areas which we may have seen and experienced both in our country, but also, from what we are seeing across the world and bringing our experiences together,” Ford also said.
In the area of corruption, Ford said the United Kingdom and Nigeria will be signing a Memorandum of Understanding, a commitment on corruption that includes returning of payments that the United Kingdom has been helping to tackle corruption.
The Memorandum of Understanding which will be signed by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, will witness the return of £210,000 pounds illegal payment to secure a contract.