By Vera Samuel Anyagafu
The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing CB, urges the Nigerian government to remain on the path of democratic consolidation.
Catriona said this while delivering her goodwill message at the 3rd Ministerial Performance Review Retreat at the State House Conference Centre, Abuja, The retreat, which is the UK’s flagship governance programme in Nigeria, was organised by the UK funded Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL) programme, through which the UK works with the Federal Government of Nigeria as well as civil societies in Nigeria to improve accountability and effective use of public resources.
In her speech, the High Commissioner reflected on three important issues, Consolidating Democracy, Economic Resilience and Institutionalising a Culture of Accountability.
On Nigeria’s 2023 general elections and the opportunity it presents to entrench democratic principles of inclusion and equality, she said, at a time when some countries in West Africa are experiencing democratic regression and illegal removal of elected governments, “I commend His Excellency, President Buhari for his commitment at the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly to leave a legacy of free-and-fair elections in Nigeria. Nigeria must remain on the path of democratic consolidation because democracy matters greatly to the world. And democracy matters for the socio-economic development of Nigeria.”
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And speaking on Nigeria’s economic resilience, Catriona, said that, ’’Nigeria’s economy is more resilient than most. But this global context has exacerbated Nigeria’s challenges even though it is a net exporter of oil and gas. Nigeria stands to benefit from taking difficult and brave decisions, which can free up fiscal space for its infrastructure and development priorities, unlock investment that will create better jobs in agriculture and the digital sector, and help realise Nigeria’s energy transition goals.”
She also commended the Nigerian government for prioritising the Ministerial Performance retreat, saying that, “Performance Management Systems enable accountability and better delivery of essential services. These are necessary for building trust and social contract between the government and its citizens. I am pleased that the UK government is working with the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, to institutionalise accountability through our Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL) programme.”
The retreat which was attended by His Excellencies, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari; the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo; former President of the Republic of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta and members of the Government of Nigeria, senior leaders and key stakeholders in Nigeria, did not end without the UK High Commissioner reiterating the strong partnership between Nigeria and the UK and the UK’s commitment to a stable, peaceful, and prosperous Nigeria.