As insecurity continues to ravage many parts of the country, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, has expressed worry at the deteriorating situation, stating that the UK government was keen on helping Nigeria win its fight against insurgency and banditry.
“We are extremely concerned about the deteriorating security situation. I mean, Nigeria is facing a lot of problems everywhere – in the Northeast, terrorism; in the Northwest, banditry, kidnapping; in the Middle Belt, the farmers-herders conflict; in the South, the Niger Delta conflict everywhere and the secession movements in the Southeast. So, Nigeria is really struggling,” Liang noted.
The envoy spoke with journalists on the sidelines of a reception held to welcome home the 2019/2020 UK Chevening Scholarship beneficiaries. Laing said the UK government had been helping the Nigerian military in the areas of training, campaign planning, and how to counter IEDs.
She further said the recent visit of the UK’s Minister of Armed Forces, during which he interacted with the Nigerian Government at the highest level, including the Service Chiefs, also showed the commitment of the UK government.
Laing, however, urged the Nigerian government to be a bit more precise about the support they needed from the UK and what the UK can offer. “So, we are here for a long time. This is a Nigerian partnership. Your insecurity becomes our insecurity if we don’t help you tackle it. So, we are here and we are trying to do our best to support you,” the envoy said.
Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, chairperson, Nigerian Diaspora Commission, urged the Chevening scholarship beneficiaries to impart the knowledge and skills gained to Nigeria’s development.
BUT despite the urgency required to tackle the situation in the country, the nation’s defence hierarchy is yet to submit the supplementary budget details that would accelerate the procurement of military hardware to prosecute the current war against insecurity in the country.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, gave the indication while answering questions from State House Correspondents on the aggregate amount for the supplementary budget after a meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) yesterday. The Minister said both the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, and the Service Chiefs were yet to put the total sum required together, which will be forwarded to the President for approval.
Responding, the Minister attributed the delay to the non-submission of the estimates by the relevant authorities. Ahmed stated that her ministry was still waiting for the military hierarchy to furnish and transmit details through the President to the National Assembly for approval to fast-track the battle.
It will be recalled that the President and leadership of the National Assembly, led by the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, met at the State House to agree on raising the supplementary budget for the military to execute the fight against banditry and insurgency.
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