Transcript of press conference in Lagos, Nigeria

A transcript of the Prime Minister's press conference in Lagos, Nigeria on 19 July 2011.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
The Rt Hon Lord Cameron

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Prime Minister

Can I first of all thank President Jonathan for his very warm welcome to me and my delegation.
Can I congratulate you once again on your election victory.  Anyone who doubts why Africa matters to Britain should just look at Nigeria, a country with massive potential, growing by 8% a year and set to be the largest in all Africa, where the economy of Lagos alone is the size of 32 African countries added together.  A country whose security issues - terrorism, crime, illegal immigration - can threaten both Britain and Nigeria alike.  Acountry which includes a tenth of the world’s children out of school, a tenth of women dying in childbirth.  Nigeria presents a development challenge that must be met if we are ever to meet the Millennium Development Goals.

President Jonathan and I have today agreed a shared agenda in each of these areas.  First, on trade, we’ve agreed to double trade between our two countries by 2014 to £8 billion.  We’ve agreed to work to double Nigeria’s power supply by 2015 to address one of the biggest obstacles to Nigerian growth.  We have also set out today, in a joint article, our shared goal of opening up trade within Africa.  I welcome President Jonathan’s leadership to liberalise trade in West Africa and to complete in due course the ultimate goal of free trade right across this continent.  For my part, I’ve set out how Britain will support this, building the key trade corridors and simplifying border crossings.

Second, on the security threat that we face we’ve agreed today a significant new partnership on counter terrorism.  Britain’s support will include helping Nigeria establish an equivalent to the COBRA process we use in Britain for handling national emergencies.  I’m also very pleased that the Nigerian parliament has today reintroduced a law on the exchange of foreign national prisoners.  The 650 Nigerians in Britain’s jails cost us many millions of pounds every year and I’m grateful for President Jonathan’s efforts to resolve this problem, something that I think is very much connected with this visit and I’m very grateful for your help.

Third, on our development goals I’ve reaffirmed today that over the next four years Britain will provide the support to lift 600,000 Nigerians out of poverty, to get 800,000 children into school, including 600,000 girls, and to give four million women and children access to free healthcare to stop maternal mortality.

But in return for this investment it is right that President Jonathan wants to use his mandate to get to grips with corruption in this country, so I’ve today offered further UK law enforcement to support the Nigerian anti corruption effort.

Finally, on Libya, I’m grateful for President Jonathan’s leadership both in the United Nations and the African union.  We both want to stop Gaddafi’s violence and insist on a new democratic future for the people of Libya.  This is not just right for the people of Libya, it is also part of a strategic opportunity to undermine the routes of Al Qaeda by building open and democratic societies in this region.

This is the first time the President and I have sat down together since his election in April.  We now have the chance for a new era in Britain’s relations with Nigeria and it’s very good to have made such progress today.

I know people at home are concerned about the hacking scandal and let me just say this: I don’t underestimate the problem.  Parts of the media committed dreadful, illegal acts.  The police have serious questions to answer about potential corruption and about a failed investigation.  Politicians have been too close to media owners.  These are big problems, but we are a big country and we’re going to sort them out.  We’re going to get to the bottom of them through a judicial inquiry and we’re going to make sure they cannot happen again.  That is the duty of the government I lead and that’s the duty we’re going to carry out.

The British people want to know that.  They want an independent media, acting within the law.  They want an independent police force always free to pursue the evidence wherever it goes and they want politicians who are prepared to work together in the public good to get this problem sorted.  The British public want that and that is what I will deliver, but the British public want something else too: they don’t want us to lose our focus on an economy that provides good jobs, on an immigration system that works for Britain, on a welfare system that is fair for our people.  All of those priorities will also be pushed ahead in the days and the weeks ahead.

Tomorrow there’ll be a statement in Parliament.  I will set out all the steps we’re going to take to get on top of this situation in terms of the media hacking issue and we will then push ahead with the vital reforms of getting Britain back on track.  Thank you very much.

President Goodluck Jonathan

Thank you.  Your Excellency, Prime Minister, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, let me again welcome our good friend David Cameron for visiting Nigeria at this particular time in the history of our own country.  Let me also use the opportunity, I did mention to him I was to visit the UK last year, but because of our elections some of you know that there was a very turbulent period for us politicians and I was unable to make that visit.  Definitely this year, at the earliest possible time, I will do that, because the relationship between these two nations are quite significant from our whole history.  All of us, from people in high school and above, know the critical relevance of the United Kingdom and Nigeria relations.

Today we discussed a number of things to add to what we … [Indistinct] … use that opportunity of the African attendance in the G20 meeting in Canada to discuss.  Just like the Prime Minister related a number of issues, Nigeria as a nation, we have our own challenges which we know very well.  The most recent one is the issue of terrorist attacks.  Before this time, Boko Haram and other related organisations came up just like religious sects advocating for a particular way of worship, like what we have in the Niger Delta areas; youths coming up to agitate for a better deal for their community.  But over time some of these agitations have been infested and taken over by people with different interests, different intentions and the whole direction begins to change.  We need to deal with the situation drastically now, we don’t need to allow it to degenerate more than it is, but it will be very difficult to erase it.  So we have a robust discussion.  We’re going to work together to make sure that these terrorist attacks we’re having or related issues are dealt with.

We discussed the stealing of our crude oil.  Those of us who are Nigerians know that the biggest problem we have in the Niger Delta is not just youths agitating for a better deal for their communities, but those who steal crude oil.   They describe it as ‘bunkering’, illegal ‘bunkering’, makes the area ungovernable.  They use money from illicit business, just like the drug cartels all over the world.  They use money from stealing crude oil to buy arms and ammunition and give it to non-state actors to protect that illegal trade.  It has created more problems in the Niger Delta than even the drugs business that are to protect communities.

The British government has a programme for working with the NNPC (Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation) to appraise the Nigerian crude, so that wherever it is sold we will be able to link up to those refineries that are refining.  Because we believe that the whole concept of Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative to be meaningful we must prevent these products extracted from our soil being stolen. The whole concept of transparency relating to extractive industries will be made nonsense if these are not protected.

We have challenges in terms of meeting our MDG goals as a nation.  We are working hard, but our statistics so far are not too good.  But we said that the whole concept of MDGs was supposed to end by 2015, that is the year also that this government will also end, by 9th May 2015.  I believe that we work very hard.  That is why the minister of health is also among our delegation, to make sure that we improve.  Even when I came in as a Vice President and there was a meeting about the MDG, we are not competitive.  With the level of literacy, levels of mortality, statistics and so on and so forth, so we are going to strengthen.  You know, we have the Health Bill that has almost passed through Parliament.  We fine-tuning one or two areas, and I believe in the next couple of weeks or months that Health Bill will be signed as law and become an Act of Parliament.  That would be the turning point of the better focus, better management of our health challenges.

As a nation, Nigeria is trying. In West Africa even the survival of ECOWAS depends almost 75% on Nigeria.  Nigeria plays a big role in the whole of Africa in terms of our peacekeeping, in terms of international relations and so on and so forth.

We will continue to work with Britain because we share a lot of common interests in terms that affect the world.  Nigeria is one country that is not influenced by others.  We believe that whatever we do is based on the rule of law and our own foreign policy.  We take a position and we always stand by it.  That is why we are able to work together with others to resolve the crisis we have in Cote d’Ivoire.  If we had wavered, probably the state of Cote d’Ivoire would still have been the same.  But because we are focused and we believe in what we are doing, we are still right and with the assistance of others, we will resolve that crisis.

So we use this opportunity to promise our good friend and the world that we will do our best and mention our issues.  We also used this opportunity to request that when the Security Council of the United Nations is reorganised, we believe that if the world would be talking about democratic governance, then we know that the Security Council needs to be liberalised and needs to be democratised to some extent and Africa needs to be represented.  The continent that houses so many nations and so many people needs to be represented and I believe that Nigeria is one of the countries that should best represent the interests of Africa.  The size of our economy, because of the role we played in the establishment of the world: we contribute peacekeepers more than any other African country.  In fact Nigeria gained independence 1 October 1960.  By 7 October 1960 we sent out our first troops to Congo to help stabilise that country, so we play the ideas and we continue to play in global issues and I believe that Nigeria is the best African country to do that.

We’ve also discussed other issues and I believe that the government of the United Kingdom will surely support us in our efforts to be there.  So, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for this morning; we thank Prime Minister Cameron for visiting us.  Thank you all.


Thank you very much.  Prime Minster, you mentioned the phone hacking scandal.  I wonder if you would tell us your thoughts on the events of the last 24 hours, in particular the resignation of John Yates and the death of Sean Hoare.  And throwing ahead to tomorrow, what is it you feel you so urgently have to say to MPs?  Have you been forced in effect into returning early to make this statement and would it be fair to characterise this as the worst crisis of your Premiership so far?

And President Jonathan, very briefly if I may, a very simple question for you: there is the most appalling humanitarian crisis unfolding in the Horn of Africa.  Shouldn’t richer African nations be doing more to resolve that crisis and help those people?

The humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia and Somalia.  400,000 dead so far; I think it’s going to be upgraded by the UN to a famine this afternoon?

Prime Minister

First of all, the events of the last 24 hours.  I mean, the death of anyone - and we don’t know the circumstances - is a tragedy for that person and their family and we should all think of the friends and the loved ones of Sean Hoare and what has happened to him.  That I think should be uppermost in our thoughts.

Obviously Paul Stephenson and John Yates have made their decisions.  They have made honourable decisions they believe, and I thank them for the service that they’ve given.  But I think, as Paul Stephenson has said today, his situation and the situation of the Metropolitan Police is different and I think that will be very clear.

In terms of this visit to Africa, I mean, I think it is important frankly for the British Prime Minister, for the British government to get on with those things that really matter for Britain, which is actually making sure there is jobs and there is investment and there is exports, and visits like this to Africa are an important part of that.  And it is not just about jobs and exports; it’s also about concerns that are very central to people across our country, for instance the issue of having quite so many Nigerians in our prisons at home.  And the fact I’m here today has helped us to make sure that the Nigerian Parliament is going to look at legislating to take those prisoners home.  Now, that is saving Britain a lot of money and actually doing the right thing and I think that’s important.

Now, of course I am returning a little bit early; I’ve shortened my programme here in Nigeria, but the key parts of m programme were going to South Africa, having a range of important business and economy meetings, and also the meeting with President Zuma.  A key part of my programme here in Nigeria again was meeting with the business delegation, making a speech at the university, and having the excellent meeting that I’ve had this morning - this afternoon - with President Jonathan.  Those are the key parts of the programme and I’m glad that I’ve been able to do that.  I think it’s right now to go back to the UK, for Parliament to meet for an extra day.  The statement - as you say, what is going to be in that statement, clearly there are more details to set out about the judicial review - the judicial inquiry - and I will be doing that tomorrow.

But I think above all, what British people want to know is: are we going to take the right steps to get to the bottom of what went wrong in parts of the media?  Yes we are, through a police investigation and a judicial inquiry.  Are we going to get to the bottom of the problems in the Metropolitan Police and potential issues of police corruption?  Yes we are, including through the use of the Independent Police Complaints Commission.  And are we as politicians going to work together and ensure that the relationship between politicians and the media and media owners is better in the future than it has been in the past?  Yes we are.  That is something we can discuss in the House of Commons.

So, I just would want to give this reassurance to people back at home, this does consist of big problems but we are a big country and we are going to sort them out.  And at the same time we are not going to take our eye off the ball of getting our economy to grow, getting jobs for our people, making sure we’ve got strong immigration and welfare policies, and doing all the things that frankly the British people are crying out for their government to get on with.

President Jonathan

Thank you.  You raised the issue of humanitarian crisis in Africa; you want to know what some of the richer countries intend to do.  Thank you.  Well, I wouldn’t say that any African country is rich.  Based on our GDP, yes some are growing.  Nigeria GDP is 7.7, about that.  But that does not mean that Nigeria is a rich country.  Yes, we produce crude oil, but if you took the amount of money that we get per unit, head - per person - it is quite low.  When you look at the infrastructure challenges we have, that is why in the MDG statistics, you heard from the Prime Minister.

I quite agree with you that there are some African countries that are not robust in terms of the size of their economy and we should be able to absorb some of it.  That is exactly what we are doing.  We discussed it because we want to carry Africa along and that is why Africa is divided into what we call economic zones.  Nigeria is in the West Africa economic zone, what we call the ECOWAS zone.  The idea is to liberalise trade in this and to encourage a more robust relationship in terms of even security in others.  And that is why currently Nigeria is the chair of ECOWAS.  That is why, even in case of countries where I have mentioned, we are able to take a personal interest and make sure that it gets faster than now.

Although we have our own local and domestic programmes, we have to build.  At the last meeting we held in Malabo, not too long ago, we came up with the option that we set up a technical committee to look into how we can tax some commodities of trade, even including what we export and what we import, like is done in the ECOWAS sub region, to see if we can generate, because if you aggregate the whole African market it’s quite a big market.

But so far, there is little difference between the African countries in terms of trade relations - that is quite why we are quite appreciative of the timely focus in terms of helping Africa to trade.  If we liberalise and we encourage intra-African trade, there is really a lot of economic opportunities.  If we place some tax on it, very small, let us say even if it is communication - let us say for every text message you send out you pay a little, maybe half a penny for a common pot in Africa, it will aggregate a significant sum of money that will help us intervene in some of these areas, especially in the health-related areas.

We talk about HIV/AIDS, we talk about polio, we talk about malaria and so on and so forth.  We think that we can even generate more money than what we get from our developing partners at least, and when we get that to complement what we have, we are going to set up the technical committee.


On Libya, today the intervention is sluggish; you know it’s not very decisive.  We still have some problems there and I remember it took you quite some convincing to get the British Parliament to buy into it.  When exactly will it end, this invention?  When will it end?  And to my President, the AU too has a role to play; when will Libya have some respite?  Thank you.

Prime Minister

What I would say is that the British Parliament actually did, in the event, strongly support the action that we’re taking with allies in Libya.  In terms of the progress that’s being made I think we see actually even as we speak here some progress has been made by the rebel forces both in the east and in the west, and I believe here we need to be patient and we need to be persistent and we need to do that because we are doing the right thing.  We’re doing the right thing by the Libyan people who are still being murdered, maimed, bombed and killed by Colonel Gaddafi and we’re doing the right thing by the United Nations which set out in United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973 that we should stop this death of civilians and this attack on his own people.

I believe that if the world remains united on this, if we are patient and persistent we will see the steady growth of the National Transitional Council which is an organisation that wants to make sure Libya is one country, is a democracy, is not extremist Islamist, is not tribalist but is actually joining the mainstream of the world as a successful democracy.  I believe that is the right answer for Libya and Libyan people should be able to choose.  We had very good discussions about this issue but I believe we will press this to a successful conclusion and Libya will be able to make a choice about its future without the shadow of Gaddafi hanging over it.

President Jonathan

Thank you.  I would also be brief.  Let me tell you: let us not be too discouraged.  I believe that we are witnessing the last set of conflicts in the African continent because every nation has passed through similar historical things.  I remember in the year 2009 when I led a trade delegation from Nigeria to Sweden, when they hosted us they said that they were celebrating 200 years of not fighting wars.  2009 - 200 years they have not fought wars and have concentrated on development.  At that time Nigeria was 49 years after independence, so African countries which in this period have had a lot of conflicts, but these set of conflicts we have, I believe we will be witnessing the last.

But to be very, very specific on the Libya issue and what African leaders are doing.  We recently met in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea and Libya is one of those key things we discussed.  At the beginning different African countries had different positions on Libya and the reasons are very obvious, because within the continent of Africa some countries have been completely democratised like South Africa, like Ghana, like Nigeria.  We have a constitution that defines how long a president will stay in office and how presidents will be removed and how a new president will come in.  Some African countries have not got to that level and you still see leaders who have been here for 20 years going to 30 years, which is not expected in a normal democratic setting where you have defined rules and so on.  But most of these countries are just getting out of this position where we have what I sometimes describe as pseudo-democracies - maybe a president, or a traditional ruler or somebody who will be sitting over your country for 30 years, more like traditional rulers.  So we are getting out of this.

So the Libya conflict, what we agreed as African leaders is that there must be negotiation; we must encourage the pro-Gaddafi and the rebels to negotiate unconditionally, but Gaddafi will not play a role in that negotiation.  The interests of the Libyan people are what are dear to us, the African leaders.  Who has fired the gun is unimportant here, whether the gun has been fired by the rebels, or the gun has been fired by the pro-Gaddafi people, or the gun is even fired by intervening bodies like NATO and others.  If Libyans are killed, Africans are killed.  If properties in Libya are destroyed, African properties are destroyed, so that is what African leaders are mindful of.  So we are encouraging the peaceful negotiation.  How we will resolve this and go in for democratically elected leaders in Africa, it’s not going to be easy but we are taking that decision.  We took that decision in Malabo, so we’re going to pursue it.


Prime Minister, Sir Paul Stephenson has told the Select Committee that a senior official from Downing Street advised him not to compromise you by telling you the details of Neil Wallis.  Do you know who that official was?  Do you think that was right?  And how damaging has this whole hacking scandal been for you personally?  I mean, there’s even been some calls that you need to consider your position.  How damaging do you think it has been?

Prime Minister

Well, first of all let me answer the second part of that first.  I mean what I do in this job is consider all the time what is the right thing to do and the right thing to do quite clearly here is to get to the bottom of what happened, to solve the two most serious parts of this which is the wrongdoing in parts of the media and the potential that there was corruption in the police and yes, also to address the third leg, as it were, which is the relationship between politicians and the media, to get those things right.  I think the government over the last week has moved rapidly to set up that judicial inquiry, to make sure the police investigation is robust, to ensure the Independent Police Complaints Commission have a proper role so the public can be confident that we’re going to get to grips and get to the bottom of this issue.

In terms of Sir Paul Stephenson, I spoke to Sir Paul Stephenson last Tuesday night; we had a good discussion about the difficulties that the Metropolitan Police were facing.  He had my full support in what he was doing.  It wouldn’t be normal for the Metropolitan Police Commissioner to share a whole range of operational detail about a particular operation with a Prime Minister; I wouldn’t expect him to do that.  What I said to him privately is the same as what I’ve said to him publicly which is that his force, which will soon be under new leadership, should pursue the evidence wherever it goes.  The fact is, it would seem to me that’s exactly what they’re doing and that’s why there have been arrests of people, including Mr Wallis and many others.  They should continue in the knowledge that they can pursue the evidence wherever it goes.

I think on the rest of the evidence it’s clearly going to be a busy day back at home with evidence from the Murdochs, evidence from the police, evidence from others and I’m very happy that I’ll respond to all of that evidence having had time to study it when I get home this evening and tomorrow morning before I make my statement and before we discuss this issues in Parliament.


Good afternoon.  My first question is to President Jonathan.  You had meetings earlier in the day with businessmen in this country and the British delegation is also here and talked about a lot of issues.  I would like to know the specific areas that Nigeria and Britain will cooperate on, like trade and investments.  And Mr Prime Minister, Libya again.  A lot of humanitarian problems are in that country; a lot of refugees are running out of Libya now.  What plans are on the ground to unload this huge Nigerian problem from Libya?  Thank you.

President Jonathan

Thank you.  Both of us have actually highlighted the areas of bilateral cooperation but specifically when you talk about the private sector, the Prime Minister had some talks on the private sector.  We discussed here as bilateral, both governments, but the issues are very clear.  You know, as a nation, before this time I mentioned the British delegation.

The federal government then controlled a number of enterprises, so many sectors were the exclusive preserve of federal government, like the power sector, like communication, etc.  Now as a nation we have realised that for us to move the way we should move the private sector must come into that process.  The Nigerian airwaves most probably wouldn’t have died at the level it developed if it was in the hands of the private sector.

So we still have ways of doing things and we are encouraging foreign investors in our power that it is dear to us, we know before the federal government, even our real estates, even our laws are not to this time limit the involvement of state government in the aspect of power projects.  However, the view is to make sure that we will completely liberalise.  From now generation and distribution will be completely privatised, apart from managing our major dams, because in the case of dams besides power we have to manage water associated for the purpose of irrigation and future development.  But this gas and power, the top brands and others, generation is privatised, distribution is also privatised.

The only thing we’ll hold onto is transmission, which will work with also the private sector as consultants.  But even that we have planned that in the future it will completely privatised.

So even in the areas of healthcare, we know Nigeria has travelled quite a lot for treatment and we are encouraging people to come and establish or even just call that here in Nigeria.  Just like the telecom is still open.  Now we have about 70 million lines, but Nigeria by November of this year from the population - from the statistics of the National Population Commission, by November this year Nigeria should be about 166 million people.  Out of 166 million people, I believe about 100 million will in the age of using the telephone.  So even if we have about 70 million telephone lines, I will still have over 30 million people that are yet to have telephones.  So really telecom is still open.  So by the time you do that adjustment we will still have almost 50 million Nigerians that will still need the telephone.  So we’ll soon have a very robust and open market.

So Nigeria is still - it’s like a virgin forest for investments, even in agriculture, in power, in health, across the general manufacturing.  These are the things we’ll discuss with the delegation.

Prime Minister

Perhaps I’ll just briefly answer the issue about the humanitarian problems in Libya.  I’ll just make three points.  The first is that if the international community hadn’t acted and if we hadn’t done what we did with the no-fly zone and the preventive attacks on Libyan forces that were heading towards Benghazi, we would have seen an immense humanitarian crisis.  So I believe international action has prevented a humanitarian crisis.

The second point is where there have been humanitarian problems, particularly at the Tunisian and Egyptian borders, the international community - often led by Britain - has acted and also aid agencies have been able to get into towns and cities like Misrata and ease the humanitarian situation there.

The third point I’d make is that clearly we are planning very carefully for what would happen in the event of Gaddafi leaving or being overthrown and there has been proper work on stabilisation and reconstruction to make sure there is a proper plan to help the Libyan people, to ensure a smooth transition to a more democratic country where they choose their own leaders.  So I think that Britain and others in the campaign to try and stop Gaddafi murdering his own people have given proper thought to both short-term humanitarian issues, but longer-term reconstruction ones as well.


Prime Minister, you say that the problems of phone hacking shouldn’t be underestimated, but equally you say there should be a focus on immigration, welfare and the economy.  You seem to be saying that the phone hacking crisis should be put into some perspective; to coin a phrase, ‘Everybody should calm down a bit’.  And secondly, Britain has contributed £90 million in aid to the whole of Africa; France has contributed two, Spain three.  What’s your message to those in other countries who seem to be dragging their feet?

Prime Minister

First of all on the hacking crisis, as I said very clearly, this is a serious problem, it involves big problems, it requires real solutions, and it requires real government action.  As I said, I want people to have confidence that as a country we’ve long treasured having an independent and vigorous press and we’ll go on having that acting within the law.  We’ve long had a successful and a powerful Parliament that can hold governments to account, that can speak up for people, and we’ll have that into the future.  We’ve long had an independent police service that’s not under political control, that will follow the evidence wherever it leads, that can make arrests when people break the law, and we will go on having that.

There are some specific things the public want us to do: sorting out police corruption, stopping the obscenity and getting to the bottom of what happened, and they want a better relationship between politicians and media owners.  We can do all of those things; I don’t belittle them for a moment.  But I also know, as Prime Minister, people are very concerned about our economy and they want to see real job growth and real investment and improvement, they want to see a government that keeps its promises about things like immigration and welfare.  They do want us to get on with the job of governing the country and sorting out issues at the same time as dealing with hacking.

That’s one of the reasons why I was so keen to continue with the key parts of this trip because actually if Britain is going to be a success in the world we’ve got to trade more with India, we’ve got to trade more with China, we’ve got to take advantage of the huge change here in Africa and there are also things we can do, for instance, on prisoners, foreign prisoners stuck in our jails by having good diplomatic meetings and relationships such as the one I’ve been having today with President Jonathan.  That is the message I want to get across, but I look forward obviously tomorrow to being able to set out in full in the House of Commons all the steps that we’re going to take to get to the bottom of this issue, as people expect us to do.

My message to other countries: Britain is playing a full and proper role.  I mean, America has put in, I think, upwards of $250 million, they’ve made a big contribution.  Britain has made a big contribution.  I would urge others to look at their consciences, to look at their budgets, to look at what they can do and recognise that this is the biggest catastrophe in that region for a generation.  And all the evidence is that we could be moving from catastrophic drought towards really problematic famine.  We do know that if the international community acts fast and if we put money into the World Food Programme you can save lives.  So I would urge other countries to do what we are doing, to prevent this catastrophe turning into something far, far worse.  Britain is playing its role; I absolutely commend Andrew Mitchell for the work he and his department have done.  He went to the Horn of Africa before meeting me in South Africa to brief me in full on the situation and I’d urge others to take similar steps.


Thank you.  Mr Prime Minister, sir, you talked about immigration and the need to exchange business between Nigeria and Britain.  I’m aware that there was a discussion that in doing that, bringing Nigerians to come home to serve their jail sentence, Britain should have a responsibility.  And a part of this question then was that Britain should assist in rehabilitating specific prisons in Nigeria to make them habitable for those who will be coming over.  The problem has always been that the Nigerians there are saying they can’t come home to serve, they prefer to serve there.  Is your government still committed to assisting in this respect?  Thank you.

Prime Minister

It’s a very good point.  I mean, what we want to do is have a good cooperative and strong relationship between our two governments obviously, but between our relevant Home Offices to make sure that where there are Nigerian prisoners in British jails they have the opportunity to serve their sentences out in Nigeria.  The President and I discussed this and he said he was keen too that these people should come home.  Obviously the British government will be helpful and will try and help facilitate this and give assistance in any way we can, but I think it’s a problem and an issue that two strong friends and good friends should be able to sort out between themselves.

Updates to this page

Published 22 July 2011