In a recent meeting with Vice President Kashim Shettima at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, Richard Montgomery, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, commended the President Bola Tinubu-led administration for its significant economic decisions that have caught the attention of the international community. Speaking to State House reporters on Wednesday, Montgomery emphasized the positive impact of subsidy removal and exchange rate reforms on the business environment in Nigeria.
During the meeting, Montgomery and Vice President Shettima discussed various topics including trade, security, defense, and economic relations. The British envoy highlighted the longstanding partnership between the UK and Nigeria, citing areas of shared interest and successful collaborations in development cooperation, trade, investment, security, defense, and education.
Regarding economic matters, Montgomery expressed his belief in the potential for stronger economic dialogue between the two countries. He acknowledged that the major economic decisions made by the Nigerian government, such as the removal of subsidies and exchange rate reforms, are of great significance and have garnered global attention. Montgomery shared that during his recent visit to London, he had positive discussions with ministers and British businesses in the finance, banking, and investment sectors, who responded favorably to Nigeria’s new government decisions.
While acknowledging the challenges faced by Nigeria, including inflation and unemployment, the High Commissioner stressed that these reforms would propel the country toward higher economic growth and attract more investment. Montgomery highlighted the United Kingdom’s view of Nigeria as a significant opportunity for future trade and investment, expressing his commitment to further bolstering these ties.
Addressing the recent decision by the British government to ban foreign students, including Nigerians, from bringing family members to the UK as part of an immigration reduction plan, Montgomery clarified that this issue was not discussed during his meeting with Vice President Shettima. However, he provided a broader perspective, stating that in 2022 alone, the UK granted 3 million new visas, with 325,000 of those visas issued to Nigerians. He emphasized that Nigerian visitors constituted over 10% of the people traveling to the UK, and the number of Nigerian students coming to the UK had increased significantly in recent years, reflecting the success of British universities in attracting Nigerian talent.
Montgomery explained that restrictions on bringing dependents were not unique to Nigeria but applied to various parts of the world. He mentioned the challenges of accommodating the housing needs of an expanding student population and the need to manage visitor numbers and migration, which is also a responsibility of the Nigerian government. The British High Commissioner aimed to place the media debate on the issue within a broader context, highlighting the overall positive relationship between the two countries.
As both nations continue to strengthen their bilateral ties, the acknowledgment of Nigeria’s economic reforms by the British High Commissioner serves as a testament to the growing recognition and potential for enhanced trade and investment between the UK and Nigeria.
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