NewsUK Defends Security Advisory On Nigeria, Admits Surge In Visa Applications

UK Defends Security Advisory On Nigeria, Admits Surge In Visa Applications


November 20, (THEWILL) – The United Kingdom, on Sunday, said the recent travel advisory on the security situation in Nigeria was in line with its security support for Africa.

British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, disclosed this when she appeared as a special guest on the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja.

Laing said the initial threat that led to the issue of the advice warning British Citizens on the security threat in Abuja has been managed and the advice reverted.

“The FCT, Abuja had been green all the time until we were made aware of the specific security in the FCT area, and we have now reverted to green.

“But the particular threat we were worried about we are confident has been managed.

“It is obviously for the Nigerian government to lead on this, the various agencies are working incredibly hard to pick up intelligence to process and to follow the leads.

“Our job as the UK is to support Nigeria and we have a security defence partnership with Nigeria, which has many, many different aspects.“One of the aspects is support for counterterrorism. So we do military training, for example on counter IED to how your soldiers can spot an IED and dismantle it if they see one.

“So, we are here to support, but it is obviously for the Nigerian government and the military to lead on security”, she said.

Asked if the U.K government liaised with Nigerian security agencies before issuing the travel advice, Laing said the UK informed the Nigerian government before making it public.

“But we have a responsibility to our citizens to alert them if we are concerned about a security threat. But of course, that advice is available to everybody, anyone can sign up for a travel alert from us.

“So you have travel advice, everyone has travel advice and so we talked carefully to the government of Nigeria but we also have to alert our citizens and indeed anyone who wants to read”, Laing added.

Laing also said the number of Nigerians applying for visas to the UK has increased in recent times.

She noted, however, that the UK government was mindful of the situation and was in talks with the Nigerian government to avoid causing a brain drain, especially in the health sector.

The high commissioner expressed her delight that the UK had become an attractive destination for Nigerians, especially students, adding that the UK was ready to welcome talents.

“You know, there are obviously people of Nigerian origin in the UK. So, people like to go where they have family or where they have friends. Secondly, the English language obviously makes it a lot easier.

“Thirdly is the education and people who have studied will want to return. And I think you know, we are a welcoming country and we want to welcome talents, whether it’s people coming to study, or people coming to work.

“So, a lot of Nigerians will be tuned to the UK and we have actually seen a very big increase in requests for Nigerian student visas. That is partly because we have changed our policy.

“So it is now easier for Nigerian students to remain after their studies, they can stay I think up to two years if you have done a masters or a PhD, which will enable people to look for work after they have studied.

“We have a labour shortage in the UK at the moment. But we have to balance that because we do not also want to be responsible for a massive brain drain from Nigeria because you also need talented people.

“So the health sector is an example where there are a lot of Nigerian medics, both nurses and doctors in the National Health Service”, she said.

Responding to why the UK is sending asylum seekers to Rwanda, Laing said it was to enhance migration in partnership with Rwanda.

“We have a policy we have designed, to enhance migration in partnership with the government of Rwanda. But it is actually under legal challenge at the moment.

“So that is just one element of trying to deal with what is frankly a huge problem.

“Like you see in the news, each day, these boats are coming across the channel with migrants from many different countries, and it is a huge, huge problem.

“Because when they arrive they have to find accommodation; it takes a long time to process their applications.

“So we absolutely recognise there are many genuine refugees from countries like Syria, in Africa, it is mostly Eritrea, South Sudan, the people who are fleeing horrible persecution.

“So the Rwanda policy is just one component of many that we are trying to put in place to address this very challenging problem.”

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