12 Jan 2015
Ms Diane Abbott (Hackney North and Stoke Newington) (Lab): 

I draw the House’s attention to the Register of Members’ Financial Interests, where I have registered visits to Nigeria over the years. The Minister will be aware that the situation in Nigeria is a matter of great concern to the British people. It is also of concern to the tens of thousands of our constituents with strong family connections in Nigeria who want to know what the British Government are doing for their friends and family. As he pointed out, Nigeria has the capacity to deal with Boko Haram if it so chose. After all, it has the largest GDP on the continent and spends huge amounts of money on arms and weaponry, and it was very effective in relation to Ebola. Does he agree that people want to know what the British Government are doing to put maximum political pressure on the Nigerian Government to make them aware that people all over the world are watching them and want them to step up to this crisis?

Mr Hugo Swire (FCO) (Con):

We are more than stepping up to the crisis. I have said that we have one of the biggest bilateral aid budgets to Nigeria in the world—it is approximately £250 million a year—as well as the additional packages I have just announced. For the diaspora here, that is something of which we can be proud. The hon. Lady said that, given the wealth in Nigeria, Nigerians have the capacity to handle these things, but I disagree. I would say that they should have the capacity to deal with them, but the reality is that they do not. That is why a lot of UK support is going towards helping to build the capacity they need, with direct tactical training and advice to the Nigerian forces. I agree that they should have it, but currently I do not believe that they do.

back ⇢