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ideas have consequences

You are here:Home>>Gideon Nyan>>Displaying items by tag: Britain
Displaying items by tag: Britain

Revisiting the relationship between Britain, Nigeria

SOMETIMES I prefer Nigeria was colonised by France rather than Britain. Going by Nigeria’s history, it seems the British specifically clogged the country together for it to fail. Or how can we explain the marriage of different peoples, different cultures to make a nation?


The French, on the other hand, could be described as true mothers. The French want the best for her colonies. Even, after the hand-over of power, the French, unlike the British, never left their colonies by themselves. Although this has been criticised by some political analysts in some quarters, it is, however, a good thing that these countries still have a big brother in France.


During the Bakassi issue, before Nigeria finally handed over the territory to the Cameroonians, the French were anticipating a war between Nigeria and Cameroon, and in the event of a war, France would come to the rescue of its former colony.


When the Islamists were moving towards the Malian capital a couple of years ago, France had to send in soldiers to stop the Islamists. Today, Mali is quite stable. Even in the Central African Republic (CAR), another French colony, French soldiers are there to bring about peace in a country divided along religious lines.


The opposite is what we are experiencing in our relationship with the British. Although some people would say we are independent now, and should be able to make decisions by ourselves, there are, however, certain support we should be getting from Britain, as a former colony.


While we are not saying that we can’t make decisions on our own, I think we need help in the ongoing war against the Boko Haram insurgents. France would never sit by and watch if we were its former colony.


Today, Britain is less concerned about Nigeria, and doesn’t act as if there is any tie between us. What stops Britain from assisting Nigeria in tackling the ongoing insurgency in the North?


Enough evidences have shown that had we been colonised by France, we would not be in the situation we are today as regards the Boko Haram insurgency. Today, Britain is more concerned about Iraq than about Nigeria.


It is not too late for Britain to get its foreign policy right as regards its relationship with Nigeria, and some of its former colonies.


We are not calling on British soldiers to come and fight our war for us, but honest military partnership can help swing the tide in favour of the Nigerian soldiers. Nothing stops the British from assisting Nigeria with military technologies that will help us defeat Boko Haram.


The last time I heard, the military fighter jet mistakenly killed some Nigerian soldiers in a friendly fire during the fight with militants in Bama, Borno State. This would not have happened if the British military, which is one of the best in the world, had given our soldiers adequate training on how to tackle the insurgents.


Even, in my own opinion, a fighter jet is not the best military weapon to prosecute this ongoing war in Borno. Helicopter gunships, which would give the pilots enough view of the enemy combatants, is better in this kind of war.


The essence of my write-up is, therefore, to call on the British to do more to support Nigeria. The disintegration of the country would never be a plus for Britain.


Dr Tajudeen Alalade wrote from  Ilorin, Kwara State.





Britain's Surprise Shopaholics: Nigerians.    As a group, Nigerians spend more than Americans ...Visitors from the U.S. are the sixth-largest shopping contingent.

Nigerian businessman Godwin Patrick took a three-week holiday to the U.K. this month to visit cousins. It wasn’t the only reason. “I’m here to shop,” the 38-year-old says as he strolls down London’s Oxford Street, clutching bags from Marks & Spencer (MKS) and Associated British Foods’ (ABF) Primark containing trousers for himself and dresses for his family in Lagos.


London retailers are big fans of Nigerian shoppers such as Patrick. The African country was the fourth-biggest contributor to overseas tax-free shopping in the U.K. last year, behind only China, Russia, and the Middle East, according to Global Blue U.K., a company that helps foreign shoppers claim a refund of Britain’s 20 percent value-added tax. (Foreigners get the break on most purchases if they take them outside the European Union.) A growing Nigerian population in the U.K. and more frequent direct flights between the countries has led to an influx of visitors who have more to spend because of the former British colony’s booming oil-driven economy.


“Nigerian travelers are very particular to the U.K.; you’d never see them as a top 10 nationality in other markets,” says Global Blue Vice President Richard Brown. As a group, Nigerians spend more than Americans do, he says. (Visitors from the U.S. are the sixth-largest shopping contingent.) Foreigners account for a third of spending in London’s high-end shopping district of Bond Street, Oxford Street, and Regent Street and will spend more than £2 billion ($3.2 billion) this year, according to the New West End, an organization of 600 retailers in the area. Spending by Nigerians in British shops rose 32 percent last year, according to Global Blue.


Russian and Middle Eastern tourists mostly seek luxury goods in Britain, like those sold at tony merchants such as Harrods or Burberry (BRBY). Nigerian visitors also spend heavily at mass-market chains such as Marks & Spencer and Debenhams (DEB) that have more selection, higher-quality products, and better prices than stores back home. “In Nigeria, there is very little formal retail,” says Siemon Scamell-Katz, global consulting director at researcher TNS. “So in terms of retail, Primark and Marks & Spencer is quite something if you haven’t come across much retail before.” Patrick agrees. “We don’t have the same standard of retailing,” he says.


Nigerian visitors spend an average of about £450 per individual transaction, compared with more than £1,000 by Middle Eastern customers, Global Blue says. At a Debenhams store on London’s Oxford Street, Nigerians provide the biggest source of overseas spending as they seek out perfume and moisturizer gift sets, British-themed products such as a Union Jack-printed teapot for £20, clothing, and shoes, according to company spokeswoman Ruth Attridge. One sign of how important the African shoppers have become: Multilingual signs advertising discounts at Debenhams are printed not only in Chinese and Arabic but also Hausa, a language spoken in Nigeria.


The popularity of Britain as a shopping destination for Nigerians partly reflects the growth in the number of people from the country living in the U.K. About two-thirds of shoppers are on holiday or visiting family and friends, while a third are traveling for business, according to Global Blue. The U.K. Office for National Statistics estimates that 174,000 Nigerians lived in the U.K. from July 2010 to June 2011, the ninth-largest nationality. That’s an increase of 34,000 compared with three years earlier.


Daily flights from the capital, Lagos, to London on British Airways and starting on May 16 on Air Nigeria are also fueling shopper journeys. The carriers know their customers: BA allows Nigeria-bound passengers to check an additional 23-kilogram suitcase gratis unlike the majority of its flights, leaving plenty of extra space for all those purchases.


The bottom line: Thanks to their nation’s oil wealth, Nigerians are the fourth-largest group of foreign shoppers in Britain. Each spends $725 on average.


Sarah Shannon is a reporter for Bloomberg News in London.

Bloomberg News



Nigeria, the world's seventh most populous nation, is moving closer to dissolution. Attacks by the northern-based Boko Harum Islamist group — who demand the implementation of Sharia law in a country that is half Christian — have prompted President Goodluck Jonathan to call current conditions worse than the country's civil war in the 1960s. British MP Kwasi Kwarteng, a  Ghanaian British reviews the sectional history of Nigeria.


he name Nigeria first appeared in print in an editorial written for The Times newspaper in London in 1897. The author was — surprisingly for Victorian England — a female journalist named Flora Shaw who, in her own way, epitomized the drive and individualism of the high Victorian Era.


Shaw, at the time she wrote the article, was a 45-year old journalist who had traveled extensively and had pursued a career in journalism contrary to the social conventions of the day. She was an unmarried woman with a mind of her own.


Early in 1892, Miss Shaw had gone to South Africa, where she explored the diamond and gold mines. She had inexhaustible energy, writing hundreds of letters about labor conditions, agriculture, and other aspects of colonial development. Her letters so impressed the management of The Times that they hired her to be the newspaper's colonial editor. She coined the name "Nigeria" to refer to the British protectorate along the Niger River that, until then, was referred to as the Royal Niger Company Territories.


Like the name she invented, Nigeria itself was an entirely artificial construct. It was just five years earlier, in 1892, that Lord Salisbury, the British Prime Minister, observed that "we have been engaged in drawing lines upon maps where no white man's foot has ever trod. We have been giving away mountains and rivers and lakes to each other, only hindered by the small impediment that we never knew exactly where the mountains and rivers and lakes were."


The almost random method by which Nigeria's borders were fixed underlay many of its subsequent problems. As far as the British were concerned, Nigeria was, like Julius Caesar's Gaul, divisible into three parts. There was a northern region that was predominantly Muslim, a western region that was dominated by the Yoruba tribe, and an eastern region where the Igbo were the predominant ethnic group. This was an oversimplified view, but it reflected British attitudes about Nigeria. It was not until 1914 that Fredrick (later Lord) Lugard combined the northern and southern parts into the unified Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria.

undefinedLord Lugard with Northern Emirs

Lugard was an individualistic military man and possessed a driving sense of purpose. In 1902, Lugard and Flora Shaw married. They were a classic power couple of the British Empire. Since they married rather late in life (he was in his mid-40s and she was 50), their marriage was childless, and the couple devoted themselves wholeheartedly to the Imperial cause. According to his biographer, Lord Lugard was a small man, and his physique "allowed him to do two men's work in a climate and in conditions which halved the capacities of most men."

Nigeria's colonial legacy


The north was an Islamic feudal society dominated by dignitaries such as the Emir of Kano. In the south, Christianity spread among the Igbo and Yoruba peoples. There was a suspicion that the British were more instinctively inclined towards the north. (Lord Lugard was felt to harbor contempt for the educated and Europeanized Africans of the south, and had once recommended moving the capital from Lagos to the northern city of Kaduna.)


Even if this bias was not based in fact, it was widely believed to be true by the Africans. As one civil servant in the Foreign Office observed in 1970, "It was an article of faith in Eastern Nigeria, and had been for decades, that the British were hopelessly biased in favor of the feudal Emirs of the North; there was some basis for this, since the North retained the highest proportion of British officials, many of them coming from the Sudan with a romantic passion for Islam and for polo-playing aristocrats."


The Nigerian Civil War (also called the Biafra War), which began in 1967, was a direct result of these tensions. As early as 1912, the British socialist E.D. Morel had observed that the "Southern Nigerian system is turning out every year hundreds of Europeanized Africans," but the "Northern Nigerian system aims at the establishment of an educational system based upon a totally different ideal." Nigeria has remained a seething pool of diverse — and often conflicting — peoples. Not everything can be blamed on colonialism, but it is undoubtedly the case that the nature of Nigeria's problems have some connection with its colonial experience.


Ethnic and religious conflict has been a consistent feature of modern Nigerian politics. Another is the extent of corruption that has pervaded the country. Nigeria's corruption has obviously stemmed from the very weak sense of national identity of the country's official and political class. In countries with a strong sense of nationhood, officials are powerfully motivated to act in the best interests of the state. Their self-esteem and self-worth are bound up in it.


While a cadre of utterly selfless public officials has probably never existed anywhere, those of 18th-century Prussia and Imperial Britain — some might even point to those of modern-day Britain and the United States — have come pretty close. But modern Nigeria lacks that strong sense of nationhood, and thus lacks any semblance of a selfless bureaucracy. That is not entirely the fault of its colonial past, but the haphazard and arbitrary manner in which the country was created is surely a contributory cause.


Dr Kwasi Alfred Addo Kwarteng (born 26 May 1975 in London is a British Conservative Party politician. After the retirement of Conservative MP David Wilshire, Kwarteng was elected as Member of Parliament (MP) for Spelthorne in Surrey in the 2010 general election, winning the seat with 22,261 votes and a majority of 10,019. Kwarteng was born in London. His parents migrated to the UK from Ghana as students in the 1960s. He attended Eton College as a King's Scholar, and then read classics and history at Trinity College, Cambridge. He was a member of the winning University Challenge team in 1995, in the first series after the programme was revived by the BBC in 1994.He attended Harvard University as a Kennedy Scholar and completed a PhD in History at Cambridge University.Prior to becoming an MP, Kwarteng worked as an analyst in financial services. He has written a book, Ghosts of Empire, about the legacy of the British Empire, published by Bloomsbury in 2011. He has also co-authored a book entitled, Gridlock Nation, which focuses its attention on the causes and solutions to traffic congestion in Britain. (Wikpedia)


Saturday, 12 March 2011 14:11

British lawyer pleads guilty to bribery

A British lawyer accused of helping a former Halliburton Co. subsidiary illegally bribe Nigerian officials to win more than $6 billion in construction contracts pleaded guilty Friday to federal charges and was ordered to forfeit nearly $150 million.

Jeffrey Tesler, 62, was charged with conspiracy and violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which among other things prohibits payments to foreign government officials to help obtain business. Tesler faces up to five years in prison on each count and up to $250,000 in fines when sentenced June 22. Nine other counts were dismissed under the plea deal.

U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison released Tesler, a dual citizen of Britain and Israel, on $50,000 bond and ordered him to stay in Houston until his sentencing.

Tesler was arrested in London in February 2009, accused of helping steer bribe money from Houston-based Kellogg, Brown & Root LLC to Nigerian government officials to win more than $6 billion in contracts for liquefied natural gas facilities.

The bribery occurred for about 10 years, through 2004, and Tesler was involved in at least four construction contracts, Assistant U.S. Attorney William Stuckwisch said.

"Mr. Tesler knew it was unlawful for him to bribe foreign officials," Stuckwisch told Ellison during Friday's hearing.

Tesler's attorneys unsuccessfully argued that their client shouldn't be extradited because the crimes didn't have a substantial link to the U.S. and the passage of time might prevent a fair trial. The British High Court in January said Tesler could be sent to the U.S.

"You seem an unlikely person to be here," Ellison told Tesler, who stood before the judge Friday wearing olive green jail clothing and in handcuffs and leg chains.

"I agree with that assessment," Tesler replied.

When Ellison said he assumed Tesler was engaged in the bribery "because everybody was doing it," Tesler responded: "I think that's a fair comment."

Tesler's lawyer, Bradley Simon, declined to comment on why his client had taken the plea deal.

Tesler, who surrendered his passport, could face a reduced sentence depending on his continued cooperation with authorities, prosecutors said.

Another British man indicted with Tesler, Wojciech Chodan, pleaded guilty in December to one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. His sentencing is set for April 27.

The charges against the pair were part of a U.S. investigation of KBR Inc.'s practices in Nigeria.

In February 2009, KBR pleaded guilty in Houston federal court to violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by authorizing and paying bribes from 1995 to 2004 for contracts to build liquefied natural gas facilities on Bonny Island, Nigeria.

The company agreed to pay more than $400 million in fines. A major engineering and construction services company with operations around the world, KBR split from Halliburton in 2007.

KBR's former chief executive, Albert "Jack" Stanley, pleaded guilty in September 2008 for his role in the bribery scheme and is scheduled to be sentenced on May 5.

In December, Nigeria's anti-corruption agency charged current and former KBR and Halliburton executives, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, who at one time led Halliburton, in the bribery scheme. But the charges were dropped a few weeks later after Halliburton agreed to pay a $35 million settlement.

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, passed in 1977, prohibits payments to foreign government officials to assist in obtaining or retaining business or to secure an advantage to getting the business. Its anti-bribery provisions were broadened in 1998, to apply to foreign firms and persons who directly or through agents allow corrupt payments to take place.

Published in Archive

Nigeria has a new Minister of Finance, Olusegun Aganga a managing director at Goldman Sachs branch in Britain. Aganga, a free marketer has a substantial experience in private industry together with his academic brilliance, he can efficiently manage and oversee Nigeria’s financial house. The minister of finance must be ready and keen to make sure that Nigeria will not fall into the trap of large external debt and higher inflation. This is important because Nigeria should not be throw back to the gloomy days of large foreign debt. Nigeria was overwhelm with the incireasing interest rates and arrears accumulated by the servicing of the foreign debt.

Nigeria external debt is currently over $5 billion dollars. Many Nigerians will be surprise to hear that Nigeria is still an indebted nation after she exited from the debt of Paris Club and London Club in 2006. Nigeria finally settled her debt of $36 billion but most Nigerians might think that Nigeria is forever free of external debt. But a thriving nation is likely to be in debt provided that the available credits are invested appropriately for creation of further wealth and improving the well being of the nation. Nigeria should try to establish criteria and benchmark for borrowing, at least to make sure that her debt does not exceed 2-3% of her GDP.

Nigerian Minister of Finance, Olusegun Aganga

In December of 2009, the former minister of finance, Mansur Muktar highlighted the state of Nigeria’s debt: "Nigeria’s exit from the Paris Club debt in 2005/2006, the external debt stock dropped dramatically and substantially from $35.94 billion to $3.54 as at the end of year 2006 but rose to $3.947 billion at the end of December 2009, including the $3.686 billion obtained from multilateral organizations namely World Bank, African Development Fund (ADF), International Development Association (IDA) and African Development Bank (AfDB) which has 40 year repayment period and 10 year moratorium period." It is essential that this is conveyed to average Nigerian taxpayers so that they become watchdogs to the finance of their country.

Also making the clarion call of country’s debt is Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the managing director of World Bank and the former finance minister of Nigeria. Okonjo-Iweala was among the principal leaders that facilitated and guided the country’s successful exit from both Paris and Club of Creditors in 2006. Recently in a lecture at University of Calabar she said, "In April 2006, Nigeria paid off the last installment due on its debt settlement agreement with the Paris Club, thereby erasing 30 billion dollars in external debt and reducing government external debt to 3.5 billion dollars."

Therefore the new minister of finance, Olusegun Aganga should deliberately and carefully monitor the country’s debt. The minister must closely work with Sanusi‘s Central Bank of Nigeria to tame inflation which can easily frustrate economic growth and further weaken the depreciating naira. Nigeria is issuing bonds to raise money for infrastructures development. Aganga must get involve and make sure that money raised will not be wasted and the burden of the debt passed down to powerless Nigerians.

Afripol Organization. Africa Political and Economic Strategic Center (Afripol) is foremost a public policy center whose fundamental objective is to broaden the parameters of public policy debates in Africa. To advocate, promote and encourage free enterprise, democracy, sustainable green environment, human rights, conflict resolutions, transparency and probity in Africa. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Published in Archive