International Development Minister James Wharton has returned from his first visit to Nigeria.
As Africa’s most populous country, the Minister highlighted that Nigeria’s success matters to the UK and to the African continent as a whole: a stable, secure and prosperous Nigeria means economic opportunities for British businesses and a safer, more secure UK. Minister Wharton travelled to Kaduna - a key partner state for the UK – and went onto Lagos. He saw how UK support is helping develop the essential building blocks for prosperity.
In Abuja, Minister Wharton discussed the ongoing security and humanitarian challenges in the North East, and observed the ways in which emergency aid is being distributed across the region to transform the lives of some of the most vulnerable people.
To date, UK support via the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has helped provide tens of thousands of people with medical assistance and access to food and clean water.
Minister Wharton said:
Nigeria’s success truly matters to the UK and to Africa as a whole. It is a tragedy that the conflict in the north east of the country has left millions of people in urgent need of shelter, protection, food and emergency health care. On this visit I saw for myself some of the humanitarian aid from the British people going to those in such desperate need. This UK support is helping to improve security and stability.
My visit is further evidence that the UK is an outward-looking, globally engaged nation, and I want to deepen the broad range of support and assistance we provide Nigeria, including in health, education and economic reform as part of that. As we move to seize the opportunities presented by leaving the European Union, we are all the more determined to work together on tackling big challenges facing the country – which is both in Nigeria and the UK’s interests.
Looking at a broad range of development assistance, the Minister also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Kaduna State Government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to promote stronger primary health services in poor, rural communities, including maternal and new born health care, immunisation and HIV/AIDS.
Nigeria is one of Africa’s largest economies. As such, Minister Wharton also used his time in the country to promote British business as a key partner in helping Nigeria achieve its huge potential.