By Chijioke Okoronkwo
Vice President Kashim Shettima has advocated for creation of the Nigeria-UK Bi-National Commission to strengthen bilateral relations between the two nations.
This is contained in a statement signed Mr Olusola Abiola, Director, Information, Office of the Vice President and made available to newsmen in Abuja on Wednesday.
Shettima made this known when he received the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Richard Montgomery on a courtesy call at the presidential villa.
The Vice president said that Nigeria and UK had long standing historical relationship, business activities and shared common interests, which has led to the exceptional cordial relationship between the two nations.
He lauded the British government for its regular support and assistance to Nigeria while expressing hope for a more robust business relations ahead.
“I will urge you to facilitate the setting up of the Nigeria-UK Binational Commission. The Bi-national Commission can be the driver for accelerating enhanced business relationship between our two countries.
“We need to ramp up the trade between our two nations taking into cognizance of our proximity and the long lasting relationship.
“There is no nation that we are close to than the UK and our trade represent less than five per cent of the volume of our import and export,” Shettima said.
He said that the Federal Government was committed to creating an enabling environment for businesses activities to flourish in the country.
The VP underscored the need for economic reforms in order to position the country’s economy for growth in order to march the recent removal of fuel subsidy.
“This is just the beginning because it was a fait accompli to withdraw the fuel subsidy.
“We either get rid of the fuel subsidy or the fuel subsidy get rid of the Nigerian nation.
“In 2012, we spent 10 billion dollars on fuel subsidy alone.
“Last month, we were purportedly consuming 67 million litres per day, but after the removal of the subsidy it drops to 41 million litres per day, nearly four per cent off.
”So the whole subsidy regime was opaque, ridden with a lot of inconsistencies.”
He said that the previous multiple exchange rate regime with a lot of corruption brought about the proliferation of many schemes.
He said that the government had no other option but to collapse the exchange rate regimes into one.
“In the coming weeks and months, we are going to make more pronouncements on how to reposition the Nigerian economy and make it vibrant for business,” he said.
He spoke on the role of the private sector in driving economic growth.
According to him, Lagos is booming fundamentally because of the private sector but not because of government as the government has created the avenue for businesses to thrive.
On efforts to find a lasting solution to the security challenges in the country, Shettima stated that there was need for both kinetic and non-kinetic approaches toward addressing the problems.
In his remarks, Montgomery commended the new administration’s proactive economic policies especially the reforms.
He lauded the long standing relationship and cooperation with Nigeria especially in areas of trade and investment, security and defence, digital technology, and education.
He assured the willingness of the UK government in partnering closely with the Nigeria towards achieving overall development of the nation.