By Steve Oni, Ilorin
The British government has debunked claims by some secession agitators in parts of Nigeria that its government is backing their agitation to break Nigeria.
Speaking with journalists on Friday in Ilorin, the Kwara state capital, after meeting with the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Dr. Ali Ahmad, on a courtesy visit, the British envoy in Nigeria, His Excellency, Mr. Paul Arkwright, said the British government was not in support of any agitation for breakup of Nigeria.
It would be recalled that some agitators had claimed that some powerful nations like the US and UK were backing their agitation, while the US government had denied such claim.
He said: “In a word, No. We don’t have anything to do with anyone agitating for breakup of Nigeria. We’re strongly in support of unity of Nigeria and Federal Government of Nigeria. And that’s what British government has consistently supported and we don’t have interest or in support of any one agitating for breakup of Nigeria. For anyone to say British government is involved in any way in breakup of Nigeria is completely wrong.”
The British ambassador, who described Nigeria’s democratic situation as delicate, commended both the state government and the state House of Assembly on their efforts at upholding democratic tenets and keeping the flame of democracy alive.
He said the British government was interested in getting more Nigerian women engaged in politics, adding that he was happy with efforts of the state government and the House of Assembly in women participation, especially with women lawmakers holding leadership positions in the House.
He said the percentage of women in politics was low in Nigeria, and charged the government to encourage more women in politics.
He also said that his government would continue to collaborate with the state government in areas of education, and political development.
Responding, the Speaker described the visit as symbolic, saying that it was an attestation that British government was in support of Nigeria’s democracy.
“This has also deepened democracy in Nigeria and it sent a message that legislature is central to democracy. Unfortunately, many state Houses of Assembly in Nigeria are not functioning as expected. But we here at the House of Assembly have had cause to disagree with the executives despite the fact that we’re in same party”, he said.