President Muhammadu Buhari has assured the British Prime Minister, Theresa May of his commitment to conducting free, fair and credible elections in 2019. He made the remark during a bilateral meeting with the visiting Prime Minister at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Wednesday. Buhari, according to a statement by the Special Adviser on Media and
President Muhammadu Buhari has assured the British Prime Minister, Theresa May of his commitment to conducting free, fair and credible elections in 2019.
He made the remark during a bilateral meeting with the visiting Prime Minister at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Wednesday.
Buhari, according to a statement by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, welcomed UK’s support at strengthening democratic institutions in the country.
He said ‘‘I assure you that I’m all out for free, fair and credible elections. I’m very pleased that my party is doing very well. The High Commissioner will brief you more. The recent successes in polls in Katsina, Bauchi, and Kogi have boosted our morale greatly.
‘‘Nigeria has accepted multiparty democracy and that is putting politicians on their toes, forcing them to work harder,’’ he said.
On the anti-corruption campaign, the President applauded the British support to the country, noting that the success of the fight was very important to ordinary people in the country.
He went on “We had great opportunities and resources between 1999 and 2014, due to high oil prices. But when we came in 2015, oil prices plunged to as low as 37 dollars per barrel.
‘‘What we have been doing since 2015 is to focus on infrastructure development, despite low earnings. Work is ongoing in roads, rail, power, and many others.”
On Brexit, President Buhari noted that it provides an opportunity to strengthen the historic ties between Nigeria and the United Kingdom.
‘‘We are nervously watching the development about Brexit because we know that the relationship had been on for a long time. I assure you that I am prepared to strengthen the relationship between our two countries.’’
The President also thanked the UK government for the support on security and the fight against insurgency in the North Eastern part of Nigeria, and the improved trade relations between both countries.
‘‘I am very grateful to the British government under your leadership for the help in security, particularly your training team that is in our institution in Kaduna,’’ he said.
Speaking earlier before the bilateral meeting, the Nigerian leader underscored the need for UK support on reviving of Lake Chad, which is a means of livelihood for millions of people.
The President told the visiting Prime Minister that Europe and China were already conducting an in-depth study on recharging the Lake through inter-basin transfer from the Central African Republic.
In her remarks, Prime Minister Theresa May, who welcomed the assurance by the Nigerian government on credible elections in 2019, said she was pleased to be in Abuja to continue the ‘‘excellent discussions’’ she started with President Buhari in London in April, this year, particularly on security, trade, asset recovery and the fight against corruption.
‘‘Security and defence cooperation are very important steps to address Boko Haram and Islamic State in West Africa,’’ May said.
On asset recovery, the Prime Minister told President Buhari: ‘‘We do not want to hold anything that belongs to Nigeria people, but we follow the judicial process, which can be slow.’’
The Prime Minister appealed to President Buhari to use his position as ECOWAS Chair to keep the issue of human trafficking on the front burner in the sub-region.
President Buhari and Prime Minister May witnessed the signing of two agreements: Security and Defence Partnership and Economic Development Forum Agreement.
The UK Government has announced a new £70-million programme to create 100,000 jobs in Nigeria, says the Minister of State for Africa, Harriett Baldwin.
Baldwin said this during a business event as part of the activities for Prime Minister Theresa May’s visit to Nigeria on Wednesday.
Baldwin, who led a business delegation to the event, said that the programme would raise the income of three million people from the poorest parts of Nigeria.
“We are here today to talk about technology links between the UK Fintech (financial technology) sector and the Nigerian Fintech sector and will bring inward investment in terms of this important sector of technology.
“Today, it is all about celebrating those links through technology and I am very excited that the Prime Minister is announcing today a new £70 million programme that will create some 100,000 jobs in Nigeria and will also raise the income of three million people from the poorest parts of Nigeria.”
The minister said that the event was celebrating the role of growing businesses and entrepreneurs and also highlighted the partnerships of both countries in the area of technological development.
She added that the delegation consisted of various UK businesses that were willing to invest “the kind of capital that creates jobs”.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the Ministers of Finance and Power, Works and Housing, Kemi Adeosun and Babatunde Fashola respectively, attended the event.
Mr Osinbajo said that the federal government was keen on driving technology development in the country in support of the government’s economic growth plan.
The vice president said there was the need to create the right environment for technology companies to thrive and further gave an assurance of the government’s commitment to support innovation in the country.
“I think just looking at some of the start-ups that we see today, many of them started while the recession was on and they proved, by just a number of jobs, value and wealth created, that this is the future starting today.”
“This is why we have started up first with the creativity and technology advisory group; many of these start-ups are members of this group where they help to formulate policies with federal government policy makers especially in fintech, which are some of the new areas we need to formulate policies.”
NAN also reports that the event, held at Ventures Park, an innovation hub and co-working space for entrepreneurs, showcasing a number products from start-up entrepreneurs.
The founder of Ventures Park, Kola Aina, said that the government’s `ease of doing business’ policy had been “relatively helpful” to the growth of small and medium-scale business in the country.
“There is also a lot of talk about incentives like the pioneer start-ups programmes that we are looking to see how start-ups can begin to benefit from.
“More than ever before, we are starting to see a lot of support from the government.”
The event simultaneously held a panel discussion highlighting opportunities for doing business among businessmen of both countries.
The panel included Fashola, Adeosun and other key government representatives.
The Lord Mayor of the City of London, Charles Bowman, was also part of the discussions alongside several other UK businessmen.
Ms May’s visit to Nigeria is part of her tour of some African countries.
She is expected in Nairobi on Thursday, where she will meet President Uhuru Kenyatta and see British soldiers from Kenya and other African countries on the techniques needed to identify and destroy improvised explosive devices before they go to fight Al-Shabaab in Somalia.
The prime minister is on a trade mission in an attempt to bolster Britain’s post-Brexit fortunes. This is her first visit to sub-Saharan Africa since she became prime minister in 2016.
She is accompanied by a 30-member business delegation as part of her efforts to “deepen and strengthen” partnerships around the world as the UK prepares to leave the European Union next year.
In a related report, Prime Minister Theresa May has said Nigeria is home to the highest number of “very poor people” in the world.
Speaking in Cape Town, South Africa, on Tuesday, May said Africa is home to a majority of the world’s fragile states, and a quarter of the world’s displaced people.
She added that Africa has the highest number of poor people in the world, stating that 87 million Nigerians were living below the poverty line of $1 and 90 cents per day.
“Much of Nigeria is thriving, with many individuals enjoying the fruits of a resurgent economy, yet 87 million Nigerians live below $1 and 90 cents a day, making it home to more very poor people than any other nation in the world,” the British prime minister said.
In June, the Brookings Institution named Nigeria the poverty capital of the world, overtaking India, a country with a total population of over 1.3 billion people.
But the Nigerian government said Nigerians should dismiss the report, considering the fact that it was compiled when the country was in the throes of its worst economic recession in 29 years.
May said achieving inclusive growth is a challenge across the world, adding that Africa needs to create 50,000 new jobs per day to keep employment rate at its current level till 2035.
The prime minister said she wants the UK to become the biggest G-7 investor in Africa by 2022, building around shared prosperity and shared security.
“I am unashamed about the need to ensure that our aid program works for the UK,” May said, adding that a healthy African economy is good news for the UK.
“Today I am committing that our development spending will not only combat extreme poverty, but at the same time tackle global challenges and support our own national interest.”
“It is in the world’s interest to see that those jobs are created, to tackle the causes and symptoms of extremism and instability, to deal with migration flows and to encourage clean growth,” she added.
The 61-year-old said the UK is planning to sign a deal with Kenya to ensure the repatriation of stolen Kenyan funds stuck in the UK.
The UK has one of the biggest overseas aid programmes in the world, expending $18 billion in 2017 alone.