Vice President Sen. Kashim Shettima has called for stronger relations between Nigeria and the United Kingdom (UK) given the long standing historical antecedents, business activities and shared interests between the two countries.
Vice President Shettima made the call today during a courtesy visit to his office by the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Richard Montgomery at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
In his brief remarks, the Vice President commended the long standing assistance and support of the UK government to Nigeria and expressed hope for a more robust business relations.
According to him “I will urge you to facilitate the setting up of the Nigeria-UK Binational Commission; that Bi-national Commission can be the driver for accelerating enhance business relationship between our two countries.”
“We need to ramp up the trade between our two nations taking into cognizance our proximity. There is no nation that we are close to than the UK and our trade represent less than five per cent of the volume of our import and export.”
Speaking on the issue of the economy, the Vice President said “most definitely, we are going to create an enabling environment for businesses to flourish in this country.”
Sen. Shettima underscored the need for economic reforms in order to position the country’s economy for growth especially the removal of fuel subsidy, “this is just the beginning because it was fait accompli to withdraw the fuel subsidy. We either get rid of the fuel subsidy or the fuel subsidy get rid of the Nigerian nation.”
The Vice President observed that “in 2012, we spent $10bn on fuel subsidy alone. Last month, we were purportedly consuming 67 million litres per day, but after the removal of the subsidy it drops to 41 million bpd, nearly 40% off. So the whole subsidy regime was opaque, ridden with a lot of inconsistency.
Still on economic reforms, the Vice President noted that the previous multiple exchange rate regime with a lot of corruption brought about the proliferation of so many schemes. “So obviously we have no option but to collapse the exchange rate regimes into one. In the coming weeks and months, we are going to make more pronouncements on how to reposition the Nigerian economy and make it vibrant for business.”
Emphasizing the role of the private sector in driving economic growth, the Vice President citing the example of Lagos said “Lagos is booming fundamentally because of the private sector but not because of government; the government just created the avenue for businesses to thrive.”
On efforts to find a lasting solution to the security challenges in the country, Sen. Shettima stated that there is need for both kinetic and non-kinetic approaches towards addressing the problems.
“Unless we want to engage in an endless war of attrition, you have to find a kinetic and non-kinetic solutions to our problems. Yes, we have to strengthen our security architecture, so that we can be a stronger bargaining position with the insurrectionist; Boko Haram terrorists and kidnappers.”
He added that as part of the efforts of the Tinubu administration towards addressing on-going security problems, the Vice President disclosed that government will soon roll out different socio-economic intervention programmes and initiatives in the North East and North West that will facilitate empowerment and social inclusion of the vulnerable groups in the regions.
“So, I can assure you that we will pursue both kinetic and non-kinetic solutions to our challenges,” he added.
In his remarks, the British High Commissioner, Mr. Richard Montgomery, commended the new administration’s proactive economic policies especially the reforms. He lauded the long standing relationship and cooperation with Nigeria especially in areas of trade and investment, security and defence, digital technology, education. He expressed the readiness of the UK government to partner closely with the Federal Government to achieve overall development of the country.
In the delegation of the British High Commissioner were the Deputy Development Director, Susan Mshana; Counsellor Lake Chad Basin, Alex Maclean; Political Counsellor, Jonathan Bacon and Senior Political Advisor, Damilola Oyedele.