In April, a delegation of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Nigeria visited the country on a fact-finding mission, travelling to Lagos, Minna and Abuja. This is the report of the delegation's discussions and observations from the visit. With a particular focus on Nigeria’s youth population, this report considers the reform agenda, the business environment, and the security situation.
For its potential to be untapped, Nigeria's population needs to be more than an impressive statistic: young people need genuine education and skills training, and ambitions need to be matched with opportunities. Nigeria’s economy will grow considerably, but unless federal and state reform agendas succeed now, progressive change will be stifled by future challenges stemming from demographic growth in an environment without the institutions to cope.
Resources available for international engagement on Nigeria must be used in the most in the most effective way possible – and the Nigerian diaspora has a role to play in this – to improve the livelihoods of ordinary Nigerians and give people opportunities to contribute to economic progress and development in the country.
Investors are attracted to Nigeria because of its resources and market potential – but they are concerned about contract sanctity, security and the lack infrastructure. There are some states with dynamic and reformist governments who wish to leave legacies of visible change and thriving economies. A broader and more nuanced understanding of the country’s diversity and complexities is needed so that opportunities can be identified and made the most of.
The policy response to the threat of terrorism in Nigeria is not only about security. In keeping with all challenges that Nigeria confronts, this new one is multifaceted and the solution to it will come from multiple policy areas. Whatever is at the root of such violence, extremism in Nigeria has emerged in a context of extreme conditions.
There are four areas where the APPG believes international partners, and in particular the UK can be most effective in supporting change in Nigeria:
1. In improving access to and quality of education and skills training and supporting this through provision of assistance with certification of training standards by UK institutions that can offer universally recognised certification;
2. In supporting UK businesses of all sizes, in cooperation with the Nigerian government and private sector partners, to enter Nigeria in key industries where businesses have greater scope to be successful while being able to bring strong management, skills and technology transfer;
3. In supporting efforts to bring power sector reform plans to fruition;
4. In engaging Nigerian diaspora individuals and organisations in the UK and US in a formal network that can assist efforts in Nigeria in specific sectors and states or communities.