While still in Kano, chaired a workshop organised at the lovely British Council office about the impact of climate change on the North. Many experts talked grimly about desertification; urgent need for new energy sources to reduce pressure on wood; and the way the Koran and the Bible support the environment and planting of trees.
Education, awareness, understanding the extent of the problem, changing attitudes, getting community 'ownership', were all themes that emerged. What's clear is that adapting to the impact of climate change should be a big agenda for the North. We'll do what we can to help.
On 4 May, signed a joint mission statement with colleagues Eamon Cassidy of DFID and Peter Upton of the British Council. The main message is that we are one team, working together for progress and positive change in Nigeria.
Text: " MISSION STATEMENT
We believe progress in Nigeria contributes to a better Britain. We want a true partnership with Nigeria and with Africa.
Our values are those of service, mutual respect, integrity, professionalism, dignity and honesty. We believe in valuing diversity and in working as one committed team.
We will act as a bridge between our countries and peoples. We believe the UK in Nigeria should work innovatively for positive change, understanding and co-operation.
We will share our values, knowledge, experience, skills and technology, encouraging international rules-based standards and thereby helping our partners transform their country, economy and institutions so that all Nigerians can have a better quality of life.
The work of many of us is to provide fast, efficient and effective high quality services and support. We want to minimise bureaucracy, take necessary risks and deliver- but not to compromise on standards.
In partnership with stakeholders in Nigeria and West Africa, we are working for faster progress towards the Millennium Development Goals; equitable wealth creation and sustainable lower carbon growth; better governance and democratic standards; good management of bona fide migration; prevention of conflict and promotion of peace and security; prevention of radicalisation and terrorism; and stronger bilateral, regional and international co-operation against serious crime, without fear or favour, including money laundering, trafficking of drugs or people.
In the process we aim to improve perceptions of the UK and to encourage constructive Nigerian leadership in Africa.
We seek to empower our staff and catalyse their personal potential within a healthy work-life balance and a safe and happy environment.
We hope, in this way, to make a real difference.
Bob Dewar Eamon Cassidy Peter Upton
High Commissioner Head of DfID Nigeria British Council Director
MAY 2009 "
Drove to Kaduna for a lively evening reception for over a hundred young people from all over the North, many of them University students, who have been involved in debates and outreach and dialogue organised by the 'Bridgebuilders' organisation which we support.
The Bridgebuilders, who are ecumenical and inter-faith, are helping open the minds of youngsters to the need for peaceful dialogue and understanding as the way of resolving ethnic, religious or other differences, rather than violence and conflict. It was great to hear directly from the young people how they believe in these principles.
This has to be an important message in the North and Middle of Nigeria where many different ethnic and religious groups (Muslim and Christian) live in close proximity and where there is also competition for resources and sometimes political power.
Tragically many lives were lost from violence in Jos some months ago- which followed controversial local elections- and also in Bauchi.
Held a reception in Lagos to mark the Queen's official Birthday. Well attended by leading opinion formers in this, West Africa's key commercial hub. Focused my speech on important issues for the private sector including international standards (and how British links can help introduce those) transparency, regulation and further progress on economic reform.
Also underlined the need to make a determined push against corruption and crime. There's a movement towards quality here in the banking sector following a predominantly locally influenced correction last year, which reflected the need to introduce full international standards of transparency and regulation.
Met up with nine teachers from UK, Nigeria and Kenya who are involved in the British Council’s innovative Connecting Classrooms programme. In this case it involved three schools in each country- from Hull in the UK’s case.
Went out to the government science secondary school and met a couple of the Nigerian students who had been to Hull as part of the exchange. They were full of their experiences and how this had broadened their understanding of each other and the world. The teachers were similarly complimentary, including about how this helped each school with its curriculum and priorities. The Kenyans and Nigerians had found it very interesting to compare notes on everything from standards in school to the differences of culture.
We all went off briefly with some students for a joint outing to Zuma Rock (see photo) which is the geographical centre of Nigeria.
Education is the basis for everything. And the quality of education is so important- which depends on good teachers. So it was very inspiring to meet such dedicated teachers, all of them proud of what they are doing.
Had a good day reviewing with colleagues across the British government in Nigeria how to work together well as a team in the coming year around our joint international objectives with Nigeria. These include working with Nigeria to prevent radicalisation and conflict. And to work towards an effective lower-carbon growth strategy. And with ECOWAS, the regional organisation, to help make its efforts across West Africa more effective. Naturally a lot of what we can do in a positive sense is through use of our influence and that's where working together across the British team makes so much sense. It's really all about adding value and impetus to Nigeria and West Africa's own efforts for reform and good policies, as part of the international community. So much depends on political will and having the right partnerships of trust when it comes to actual delivery. So we plan to work hard with the newly reshuffled Nigerian government, to see what can be achieved. Lots of challenges. But worth the effort.