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British envoy tasks Nigeria on better democracy ahead of 2023 polls

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Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike (right) and the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, during her courtesy visit to Government House, Port Harcourt…yesterday.

British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, has charged Nigerian political leaders to improve the country’s democracy, saying global attention will be on Nigeria during the 2023 general elections, hence the need to improve on its electoral processes.

Laing stated this yesterday shortly after a meeting with the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, at the Government House, Port Harcourt.

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She said: “The importance of the elections will not just be for Nigeria’s democracy, but for Africa and the world. The world’s spotlight will be on Nigeria in 2023. It is vital that the 2023 election is better than 2019.

“The processes may not be generally perfect, but should be better to consolidate and improve Nigeria’s democracy.”

She stressed the need for peaceful elections in the country and particularly in Rivers State, adding: “Peaceful election in Rivers State is essential, as it was not peaceful in 2019.

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“They need to conduct a peaceful election and President Muhammadu Buhari should recognise the legacy of a good and peaceful election when former President Goodluck Jonathan handed over power to him.

“So, it could damage his legacy and reputation if the 2023 elections witness violence and insecurity. We are not naïve and certainly, there will be challenges in the states and at the Federal level, but the government need to take responsibility. People should not incite violence.”

On the Electoral Act, she cautioned that time was of the essence and that the Commission was presently lobbying to ensure that it was signed into law, stressing: “It just has to be signed.”

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On security, Laing said the British government was concerned over rising insecurity in the country, which she said, was scaring investors away from the country.

“We are seriously concerned about insecurity in Nigeria and its prosperous economic base. The security situation has become so difficult for investors and we are concerned that insecurity and other challenges in the country are costing them a lot. This has worsened following the global COVID-19 pandemic,” she added.

She, however, noted that Britain was helping the Nigerian military to build its combat capacity to effectively tackle insurgency and Boko Haram in the northern part of Nigeria.

Laing added that the British military had had its presence in Nigeria for several years and had continued to offer training on how to counter insurgency in the North East.

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