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Nigerian Elections

Volume 729: debated on Tuesday 14 March 2023

18. What plans he has for engagement with the Government of Nigeria and other interested parties following the recent elections in that country. (904066)

I had the pleasure of meeting all the front-runner candidates ahead of the election, and officials have continued engagement with a range of counterparts throughout.

The UK has a vibrant and engaged Nigerian diaspora. I know; I count myself one of them. Ndi Igbo North East England, in my constituency, has expressed concerns about serious failures of technology, security and communications in last month’s presidential elections, as has the European Union. Given that the Government have provided financial support to Nigerian civil society on election integrity, and technical advice to the Nigerian independent national electoral commission, what does the Minister think went wrong?

The hon. Lady is entirely right to say that we provided £5 million of taxpayer’s money to civil society, to boost citizen education and voter engagement; also, the British high commission deployed observers to polling stations across seven states. We commend all those involved for their commitment to democracy and, importantly in respect of her question, to resolving disputes through the courts and through peaceful means.

I am enormously grateful, Mr Speaker. Nigeria is a fast-growing country and connections between our communities are flourishing, so if Nigerians lose trust in their political institutions, it will affect our prosperity and security too. Yet the Government’s development support for Nigeria has been slashed, our offer is lacking and our voice is weak. Surely we need to develop a strategy for partnership in Nigeria and across the whole of Africa. How is the Minister going to deliver on that?

We are working incredibly closely with all our partners across Africa, none more so than Nigeria. We have been heavily engaged in recent events. We note that the gubernatorial elections have been rescheduled for 18 March, but the Government have congratulated President-elect Tinubu. We look forward to working with his Administration and dealing with exactly the matters that the hon. Lady has so eloquently raised.