By Wahab Akanji, Abuja
The United Kingdom unveiled a new building to house its High Commission in Abuja, the nation’s capital with a promise to attain a better bilateral and diplomatic relationship with Nigeria.
The country’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and International Development Secretary Priti Patel, made this known at the unveiling ceremony of the new British High Commission on Thursday in Abuja.
Johnson said that the new building, which is now located at Plot 1157 Diplomatic Drive, Central Business District, was expected to strengthen relationships with both countries.
“It gives me a great pleasure to open this wonderful, new, super, colossal British High Commission in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja although some of our officials moved in six weeks ago.
“It would further strengthen the British diplomatic ties with Nigeria. The new British High Commission accommodates all of the UK Government Departments working in Abuja.
“It provides a single platform for all the UK based and locally engaged staff working across Her Majesty’s Government which includes the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Department for International Development and Home Office.
“The New British High Commission building is a symbol of our long-term commitment to Nigeria. The UK has a long history with Nigeria and our presence in Abuja has grown with the city, spreading across multiple locations,” Johnson said.
Patel also said that the new building served symbolised a better relationship and investment in Nigeria.
“There is no better country to visit than Nigeria for so many good reasons, especially as Nigeria has a special relationship with Britain.
“The UK-Nigeria relationship is one of the strongest relationships in the world also our bilateral footprint from a development perspective is one of the strongest in the world.
“The purpose of our visit has really been to see the depth of that relationship and to see the frontline and backline of the work we collectively do.
“I have had the privilege of going into the building to meet the teams who work on our programmes but most importantly on the programmes that are here in Nigeria that are keeping so many people alive.
“Also providing hope where there is despair in some part of the country and looking to the future where we are investing in the future of Nigeria.
“This is something achieved with the help of the fantastic team here at the British High Commission and they are now all privileged to work in this amazing building and environment.
“We hope to return in the future but also be part of the great wide changing footprint we have here,’’ she said.
It provides a single platform for more than 100 UK based individuals and over 164 locally engaged staff across the UK government.
British High Commission operations were significantly constrained by inadequate accommodation across four sites with little or no room for expansion.
The new office has been built on a site in the Diplomatic Quarter designated to the UK government by the Nigerian government.