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MS6: Situation in Nigeria
#1
Madam Speaker,
I rise today to speak on the topic of Nigeria and the spiralling civil war that is currently gripping the nation.

As has been announced previously, we were closely monitoring the situation in Nigeria, and multiple assets had been relocated out of the country before I ordered the final evacuation of the British High Commissioner. This decision has proven to be a valuable one, and since then the situation in Nigeria had fallen out of control. Let me be clear: the safety of our diplomatic staff remains a top priority of this government.

When I received notice that Nigeria was descending into a three-way civil war, with the criminal putschist Sani Abacha commanding the military-aligned forces while pro-democracy protesters took to arms, I took immediate action, in consultation with Prime Minister Masters and other senior cabinet officials. A high-level dialogue with fellow NATO partners showed a desire to bring peacekeeping efforts to Nigeria. Those talks, largely with the American Secretary of State, were highly productive and the United Kingdom agreed to help take the lead by bringing on board Commonwealth partners to support the restoration of democracy.

I need not remind this House about the importance of democracy to the Commonwealth of Nations. In the Singapore Declaration of 1971, we affirmed our shared belief in individuals’ “inalienable right to participate by means of free and democratic political processes in framing the society in which they live.” In the Harare Declaration of 1991, the Commonwealth nations - including the United Kingdom - agreed to uphold work “with renewed vigour” towards “democracy, democratic processes and institutions which reflect national circumstances, the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary, just and honest government.” 

I am proud that, at Britain’s request, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group has suspended the anti-democratic regime of Sani Abacha from the Commonwealth. We have also aided in securing cooperation by neighboring Cameroon to promote peace and democracy in Nigeria.

To support this endeavor, this Government has ordered the thoughtful deployment of 100 military advisers to accompany 350 other such advisers from the United States and France. These men are to provide necessary assistance to Cameroonian peacekeeping forces on the ground, leveraging our skills and know-how without infringing upon African desires to keep the efforts under joint NATO-African control.

As a member of both the Commonwealth and NATO, we take our responsibility in this conflict with the greatest of seriousness. Our goal here is not to advance exclusively British interests in the region, but to promote the well-being and democratic self-governance of the Nigerian people. To that end, Madam Speaker, I would like to close this statement by addressing the Nigerian people directly: 
In the United Kingdom, you have a friend and a partner. As you seek to move towards democracy, as you seek to move away from a difficult history towards a bright future, we will be your partner, working in good-faith to promote your interests.
Lewis Graves
Conservative MP for Salisbury (1983-present)
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1994-present)
Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1994)
(Recks)
Reply
#2
Madam Speaker

I am grateful to the Foreign Secretary for keeping the House informed about the deteriorating situation in Nigeria.

I agree with and support his assessment that action needs to be taken against the Abacha regime which is in violation of the principles of both democracy and decency. I am pleased that such action is being pursued via diplomatic pressure, including the suspension from our Commonwealth family. Assistance to the Cameroonian peacekeeping forces is also appropriate and represents a sensible step in helping the people of Nigeria.

The irony of all this is that Nigeria, a country that has enormous potential for sustainable economic development, is being held back because of the actions of a dictator. That is not in the interests of the people of that nation, the African continent, or the wider world.

Madam Speaker, I urge the Foreign Secretary to maintain the pressure on the Nigerian regime and to help the country on its path to democracy.
---
Mrs. Margo Leadbetter
Home Secretary and Secretary of State for DEFRA
Conservative MP for Surbiton
Reply
#3
Madam Speaker,

As critical as I have been of the Government's handling of foreign affairs, in this instance I believe the Foreign Secretary has described an entirely correct response to the crisis in Nigeria. He is consulting and working closely with our allies, and he is affirming the values that we hold to as a country. The Government will have the Opposition's support as long as it continues the course set out by the Right Honorable Gentleman opposite.
Max Power, Labour
MP for Oxford East (1987-present)
Shadow Foreign Secretary (1994-present)
Reply
#4
Madam Speaker,

I commend the Foreign Secretary for his statement to the house on this very important issue.

The Government is extremely concerned at events in Nigeria. The deployment of 100 British advisers to The region alongside the group of advisers is the right decision. The decision by the CMAG was also the right one.

I would also like to thank the opposition for supporting the government following the statement delivered by the foreign secretary
Sir Harold Saxon MP

Acting Prime Minister

Chancellor of the Exchequer (1994 - )
MP for Aylesbury
Reply
#5
Madam Speaker, 

I thank the Rt. Hon. Lady from Surbiton and the Rt. Hon. Gentleman from Aylesbury for their show of support for the NATO/Commonwealth actions to promote peace, stability, and democracy in Nigeria. Britain will continue to play a vital role in securing the promise of an opportunity-filled future for Nigeria, alongside our African and global partners such as Cameroon, the United States, and France.

For the Rt. Hon. Lady: I can assure her that this Government intends to maintain pressure against the Nigerian regime of Sani Abacha, with the end-goal in mind of restoring democratic norms and principles in that nation.

I would also, Madam Speaker, like to thank the Rt. Hon. Shadow Foreign Secretary for his words of support. Nigeria remains important to the future of Africa - as the continent's most populous nation. The example that will be set by Nigeria is one of which that the rest of Africa will inevitably take note. We must therefore ensure a restoration of peaceful democratic governance in their nation.

I am glad to see cross-partisan support for this endeavor: indeed, it does reflect British priorities abroad and the role of a values-based, compassionate foreign policy alongside our partners and allies.
Lewis Graves
Conservative MP for Salisbury (1983-present)
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1994-present)
Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1994)
(Recks)
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