UK to partner Enugu on power, education

The United Kingdom (UK) has announced plans to partner with Enugu state on power, education, and public health for mutual economic development.

Richard Montgomery, British high commissioner to Nigeria, spoke during a visit to Peter Mbah, Enugu governor, on Tuesday.

Montgomery said the UK had partnered with Enugu state for over 20 years on public health sector reforms, education, and power sector reforms, among others.

“So, we are interested in continuing that partnership. I have been reading the press and the ways you have been seeking to already put your stamp on reforms and your ambitions for the state,” he said.

“I am here to listen, learn, and understand more about your priority and that of your new government to explore areas of further collaboration.

“I understand that very important reforms are currently being made in Nigeria, trying to put the economy back on track and on a higher growth path.

“We really hope that the south-east and Enugu state will see more opportunities coming from the economy in the coming years.”

The UK envoy said there might be some short-term pressures and volatility to manage, but “we can see the prospects for a higher growth path for Nigeria”.

“The UK is very interested in exploring partnerships on trade and investment and I have come to Enugu to understand your agenda and to explore those areas of potential partnership going forward,” Montgomery added.

On his part, Mbah said the state was eager to take back its “preeminent place”.

He said his administration has also shared an ambitious vision with the people of Enugu on where the state could get to in terms of our economy.

“One of the things we said to them is our ambition to transform Enugu to become a premier destination for investment, business, living, and tourism. And we also have plans to eradicate poverty in the state, which is currently higher than the national average.

“This is why your visit to us today is quite remarkable because we believe it is not a journey we can go alone. We need partnerships. We need collaborations in order to achieve that. Interestingly, we have a history of partnership with the UK, just as you have alluded to.”

On the need to restore the British Council and the UK visa facilitation centre to Enugu, Mbah said: “I have told you some of the historic roles Enugu had played in the history of the south and there could be no better place to site a visa facilitation centre than Enugu. So, we are looking forward to that to boost trade, investment, and cooperation between the UK and our state”.

The governor equally sought the technical assistance of the UK government in the areas of power to develop and build the Enugu electricity market and its regulatory commission, noting that power had been devolved to the concurrent list in the 1999 constitution of Nigeria (as amended).o