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Nigeria: Politics and Government

Volume 482: debated on Wednesday 5 November 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what progress has been made on the establishment of a trading and advisory support package to improve the security situation in the Niger Delta, referred to in the Prime Minister’s press conference with the President of Nigeria on 18 July 2008; and what (a) financial and (b) technical assistance the Government plans to contribute; (232105)

(2) what progress has been made towards establishing a maritime security training centre in the Gulf of Guinea referred to in the Prime Minister’s press conference with the President of Nigeria on 18 July 2008; and what (a) financial and (b) technical assistance the Government plans to contribute.

I have been asked to reply.

Following my right hon. Friend’s July 2008 press conference with the President of Nigeria, the Ministry of Defence hosted a visit from the Nigerian Chief of Defence Staff. The discussions focused on how to improve maritime security in the Niger Delta and on how the UK might provide training support.

The UK will provide training assistance in two areas—improving operational planning processes and in-shore small boat operations. The UK is supporting the creation of a Joint Maritime Security Training Centre. The new Nigerian CDS and Navy Chief appointed in August remain fully committed to the project and have endorsed the use of a military site close to Lagos for the Centre.

We have redirected the main focus of the British Military Advisory and Training Team in Nigeria from broader peacekeeping to support for maritime security and in October a naval officer joined the team to enhance its maritime expertise. The Africa Conflict Prevention Programme has allocated £500,000 for the project this financial year. Architectural plans for the centre have been drawn up and, working in partnership with Nigeria, the focus of this year’s activity is on construction of the facility and ensuring that the instructional equipment will be available for training, which should start in earnest in 2009.

This support is part of wider UK efforts to persuade the Nigerian Government to take forward a peace process for the Niger Delta which embraces development and good governance.