The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Richard Montgomery, on Wednesday, said some “big and important economic decisions” being taken by the President Bola Tinubu-led administration in Nigeria are being noticed around the world.
He said while responding to questions from State House reporters after meeting with Vice President Kashim Shettima at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Montgomery, who said subsidy removal and exchange rate reform would improve the business environment, revealed that his meeting with the vice president focused on issues ranging from trade, security, defence to economic relations.
“We discussed our long standing partnership between the UK and Nigeria; we have many areas of shared interest; including a good history of development cooperation.
“Some excellent trade and investment arrangements and we have also have some good cooperation on security and defence.
“As many of you were seeing from recent talks, we also had good talks on home affairs and justice and we have great people-to-people links that means education. We also discussed a number of issues to do with on how we can improve our relationships in the future.
“I think we already have a good economic dialogue, but I think there is a great potential to do more; as I discussed with the vice president. The big economic decisions being taken by this government are really important and are being noticed around the world.
“The removal of subsidy; the exchange rate reform, all of that create a much better investment environment.’’
Montgomery said he was in London recently and had talks with ministers and British businesses in finance, banking and investment sectors.
He said they all responded very positively to the first decisions taken by the new government in Nigeria.
“We know that there are tough times that are going on at the moment, inflation and unemployment. The vice president and I also touched on some of the measures that might be possible to cushion the blow of some of these economic pressures.
“But I think the big issue is that these reforms help put Nigeria on a higher growth path; they will attract more investments and the UK and the city of London see Nigeria as a big opportunity going forward. I will be doing my part to try to boost those, enhance trade and investment.”
On the decision of the British government to ban foreign students including Nigerians from bringing family members to the country as a part of the new plan to cut immigration numbers, Montgomery said the issue was not part of his discussion with the vice president.
The UK envoy, however, he would put the media debate on the in a wider context.
He said that in 2022, the UK granted 3 million new visas of which 325,000 of those visas were between Nigeria and UK.
“So, Nigerian visitors constitute over 10 per cent of the people coming to London and the UK.
“On the issue of students’ visas, I will also like to provide the context; that the number of Nigerian students coming to the UK has increased five-fold in the last three years.
“It is a fantastic success story for our universities and we are really delighted that so many Nigerians are coming to the UK.”
According to him, the issue about restrictions of people bringing dependents is not just for Nigeria but many parts of the world.
He said many students were trying to bring their dependents with them to the UK.
“And I think there are two issues here; the first is –it is not always possible to find housing services to meet all the needs of all our existing students’ population.
“Secondly, I think reasonable people will accept that we have to manage our visitor numbers and that we have to manage migration in and out of the UK; just as the Nigerian government does for your own borders,” he said.