BRITISH High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, has expressed concern over the worsening security situation in the country, pledging that the United Kingdom government was keen on helping the federal government win its fight against insecurity.
Laing, who spoke on the sidelines of the reception for returning 2019/2020 UK Chevening Scholarship beneficiaries, yesterday, said: “We are extremely concerned about the deteriorating security situation. I mean, Nigeria is facing a lot of problems everywhere – in the North-East, terrorism; in the North-West, banditry, kidnapping; in the Middle Belt, farmers-herders conflict; in the South, the Niger Delta conflict; and the secession movements in the South-East. So, Nigeria is really struggling.”
The British envoy’s comment and promise of help from UK government elicited plaudits from leaders of ethnic nationalities across the country.
Among those who welcomed the UK’s offer of assistance to tackle the raging storm of insecurity were Pan-Yoruba Socio-Political group, Afenifere; Apex Igbo Socio-Cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo; the Northern Elders Forum, NEF; and the Middle-Belt Forum, MBF.
We’ll continue assisting Nigeria – Laing
Laing said the UK government had been helping the Nigerian military in the areas of training, campaign planning, and how to counter IEDs, adding: “We are here to support and help. We have the military team here, who came here after the Chibok girls were kidnapped. We are still here, training the Nigerian military, helping them to do campaign planning, how to counter IEDs.’’
She noted that the recent visit of the UK 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.
While urging the Nigerian government to be a bit more precise about the support needed from the UK and what the UK could offer, Laing said: “So, we are here for the long term. 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.’’
On the Chevening Programme, Lang said it was an initiative by the UK government to prepare future leaders, who would not only excel in academic qualifications but also ready to return to their respective countries to give back. She disclosed that Nigeria already had 1,300 Chevening alumni, currently occupying important positions in power, thereby providing the UK both access and influence.
There’s no harm in getting help — Ayo Adebanjo
While welcoming the proposal from the UK government, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, leader of Afenifere, said there is no harm in getting help from anywhere. “They should come and help us, it has shown that the government is incompetent. We should get help from anywhere we can get it. There is no harm in getting help from anywhere because it has shown that the Federal Government cannot cope. They should get help from anywhere to stop the insecurity,” he said
Laing absolutely correct, we’re gradually heading towards anarchy – MBF
On its part, the Middle Belt Forum said the position of the British High Commissioner on the worsening insecurity in the country is absolutely correct and incontrovertible.
National President of the Forum, Dr. Bitrus Pogu, who spoke, yesterday, in Makurdi cautioned that Nigeria was heading towards anarchy if something was not done urgently to stem the tide.
His words: “I do not just agree with the position of the High Commissioner on the level of insecurity in the country, I must say that what he said is absolutely correct and incontrovertible
“Insecurity in this country is worsening and lately they are now daring even the most secured part of this country which is the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
“Within the last few days there have been abductions, kidnappings and killings within and around Abuja which is the seat of power and the most secured part of the country”
It’s a welcome devt – Ohanaeze
Speaking in like manner, The Ambassador George Obiozor -led Ohanaeze, said the security situation in Nigeria requires urgent help from all quarters to be tackled.
National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze, Hon Alex Ogbonnia told Vanguard on phone: ‘’If the UK wants to help us, it is okay and a welcome development. The security situation in Nigeria requires help and foreign intervention. Without foreign intervention we may be overwhelmed by insecurity the way we are going.’’
Also, the Chidi Ibeh led Ohanaeze commended the position of the British Government “as the true reflection of leadership failures in Nigeria towards solving the crisis escalating across the length and breadth of the country”.