The Deputy British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Peter Carter, has restated that Britain’s controversial visa bond proposal had been laid to rest for good.
Carter, who spoke in Lagos at the Nigeria-Britain Association’s Akintola Williams Annual Lecture, explained that the issue was a mere proposal and had been laid to rest.
The proposal, which generated controversy last year, would have seen first time visitors from some countries applying for British visas paying 3000 pounds visa bond.
Nigeria, Ghana, Pakistan and India among others, were listed as countries that would have been affected by the scheme, which, however, was shelved and did not take off in November 2013 when it was planned to have started.
Carter said that his country continued to take Nigeria seriously and would continue to promote good relations between both countries.
“We do not take Nigeria for granted. We take Nigeria seriously. We are beginning to come to grips that we need to promote a relationship with Nigeria based fundamentally on human relationships so that we will have the opportunity to talk frankly with each other ,’’ he said
Carter also urged Nigerians to know that issue of prisoners transfer was an agreement reached between the Nigerian and British governments.
The deputy high commissioner said that the decision to transfer Nigerians in British prisons to Kirikiri Prison was to bring them closer to their families.
He said the British government would, in the next 100 years, continue to engage with Nigeria on a mutually beneficial partnership.
Carter said his government would continue to support Nigeria in crime reduction, fight against terrorism, as well as to become economically viable.
The deputy high commissioner said that many more British companies were willing to come to Nigeria due to the existing relationship between both countries.
He commended the Nigeria-Britain Association on its commitment to the promotion of bilateral trade between the two countries.
A Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Odien Ajumogobia, who was the guest lecturer, urged Britain to promote trade and investment in Nigeria.
Ajumogobia said that the future of Nigeria and Britain should be directed at reinforcement and enhancement of economic as well as diplomatic and consular relations.
The former minister urged Britain to help accelerate Nigeria’s infrastructure development to improve her economic output.
“Nigeria today presents for Britain a new opportunity for a wholesome reciprocal relationship. The British government should also support Nigeria’s effort to attract foreign investment, as it did with a similar campaign for Nigeria’s debt forgiveness,’’ he said.
Tunde Arogunmati, the President of the Nigeria-Britain Association, expressed the body’s readiness to create the right platform for promoting relations between both countries in the years ahead.
Arogunmati said the choice of the topic for the lecture was apt, especially now that Nigeria was preparing for a National Conference.
He said that Britain would have a great role to play in “unravelling” Nigeria’s true federalism.