The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, has said the United Kingdom will deny visas to Nigerians who disrupt the 2023 elections.
In a chat with Vanguard, Laing advised Governor Nyesom Wike and Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, to cement their legacies on a positive note by ensuring peaceful 2023 elections in Rivers State.
The envoy said, “I do have some sympathy for Nigeria because if we as the UK have one of these problems your country has today, we will be struggling. Here, you deal with everything, from insurgency to kidnapping, to piracy off the Gulf of Guinea and you don’t have such a large army and police force for a country of this size.
“The only way you turn this thing around is that the government has to build the trust of its people, to have the people working with the government to deal with criminality. That’s how successful anti-criminal operations work.
“People willingly report those committing crime, working with police to identify criminals, same with the military on the insurgency situation. It’s only when the community is on the side of the police and security services that they can turn around the situation.”
On the expectations for Nigeria’s 2023 elections, Laing said: “2023 is not alright. What happens in the polls is crucial, not just for Nigeria but also for Africa. You (Nigeria) are a large democracy.
“It doesn’t have to be a perfect election. There would be problems, but we want it to be better than the last one. We want it to be secure, peaceful, the process should be run well, and you need to get people to register.”
On her choice of candidates, she said: “My ideal candidates would be two younger presidential candidates, both with female vice-presidential candidates,” apparently referring to the two leading political parties.
To Wike and Amaechi on the next Rivers State governorship election, she said: “It is essential that there’s a peaceful election in Rivers State. It will be a crucial part of his (Wike) legacy, how the election goes in this state. We’ve been saying the same thing to Amaechi.
“Another thing we will be doing is to remind people that if people do incite violence or act violently, we will be prepared to deny them visas to the UK. We will make that statement clear and say it over again.”