What new British PM Liz Truss may bring to Nigeria

Posted by News Express | 6 September 2022 | 889 times

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•New British PM Liz Truss

 

By EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO

The British Monarch, the Queen of England has chosen Liz Truss as the new head of government in the position of Prime Minister. Truss succeeds the immediate past Premier, Boris Johnson who resigned following a rash of scandals that trailed his government.

The new Prime Minister emerged on Monday September 5, 2022, and became the newest leader of the ruling party in Great Britain known as the Conservative Party.

She won 57 percent of conservative party members’ votes, against opponent Rishi Sunak’s 43per cent, a smaller margin of victory than expected.

As soon as she was announced victorious, the beautiful and delectable politician, Ms. Truss, immediately dropped a clear and unequivocal signal to tackle the most pressing economic problem of majority of the struggling populace of her Country which is the rising energy bill.

She did pledge to “deliver on the energy crisis” by dealing with the bills as well as supplies, so reports the Economics and Political Editors of the BBC. The broadcasting station disclosed that a freeze on energy bills is understood to be one of the numbers of options being worked up in the Whitehall to help struggling households to cope with the soaring cost of gas and electricity.

So it can be said that she has literally jumped onto her job with a clear mind and workable agenda on what steps and policies to implement on the short, medium and long terms basis to curtail the biting effects of the costs of living of the millions of British people.

We will in this reflection dwell briefly on her expected policies but our focus is on what ways some of her foreign and development policies as the Prime Minister of Great Britain can and will impact on Nigeria and Nigerians. Understandably, Nigerians, with little appreciation of global politics, may really not appreciate why this reflection is necessary. 

So, if you are still imagining why Nigerians should be bothered about who emerges as the leader of Britain, then you just need to remember that politicians jostling to win seats in Nigeria’s next poll in 2023 have upped the ante in the area of holding consultations inside of Great Britain and specifically in the British capital of London.

All the leading contenders for the position of the next president of Nigeria have continued to hold consultative meetings in London. Besides, London is the choice tourism destination for majority of Nigerians and don't forget that we got our flag independence from Great Britain in 1960 and ironically, it is the same Queen Elizabeth the second who handed us the Green-white-Green flag, signifying political or flag independence that will inevitably announce Liz Truss as Britain's Premier in another half dozen hours.

That said, it is therefore imperative that we read the mind of the emerging British Premier so we can hazard a guess regarding key areas that her policies may affect us positively or adversely. Certainly Nigeria will be affected in the key sectors of Immigration and Security assistance because Nigerians constitute the largest percentage of black people in the World going to Britain as tourists or would-be residents. Nigerian politicians have, for years, sent their kids to schools in Great Britain and lately, GB is the most attractive destination for our medical doctors given that thousands of Nigerian doctors have just been licenced by the British National Health Service to work in Britain. So if Great Britain coughs, Nigeria inevitably catches cold.

The immediate past Prime Minister, in the area of Immigration, tightened the policy to make it tough for migrants to gain asylum in Great Britain. Under Boris Johnson, Britain reached an agreement with Rwanda to resettle asylum seekers who migrate illegally into Great Britain. Boris Johnson also made some bold statements regarding how much of foreign defence assistance that Nigeria got. We will return to reflect on this. But first what are the main policy blueprints of this fresh Premier of Great Britain, Ms.Liz Truss? Here below are a brief on what her policies may be grounded in ideologically as captured in a report done by the British Guardian. 

In the area of Taxation and cost of living, Guardian argues that Truss’s clear economic priority is to cut taxes, a move she insists will reboot a stalled economy and help people with soaring energy bills. She has promised to reverse the recent increase in national insurance and to cancel a scheduled rise in corporation tax, at a combined cost of about £30bn a year. Truss’s team has also mooted the idea of slashing VAT by 5% or cutting income tax to help household budgets.

While Truss has said her plans would be paid for by fiscal headroom and delaying the repayment of Covid-related debts, critics have argued she will need to borrow considerable sums, at potentially expensive rates, at some cost to the economy. One option could be to expand a windfall tax on energy firms, but Truss has said she dislikes this.

There is also considerable scepticism about a tax cut-based response to the energy costs crisis, which would disproportionately benefit high earners and do nothing for those reliant on pensions or benefits. Truss has not ruled out more direct help over energy bills, but has refused to say explicitly what this might be, and talked about her distaste for “handouts.” It is a position that is about to be tested against economic reality.

On Climate and green energy, Guardian stated that while Truss has stressed her commitment to the UK’s existing net zero target, and her team insists she will focus on renewable energy, some on the greener side of the Conservative party are becoming worried about her priorities.

One of Truss’s few direct policies on the cost of living would be to suspend green levies on energy bills, which are used to invest in renewable schemes. She opposes onshore wind, and described seeing solar farms on farmland as “one of the most depressing sights” of modern Britain.

In contrast, she supports fracking for shale gas and reportedly wants to see a push for new drilling in the North Sea, and has backed a major expansion of nuclear power. She has not talked about efforts to reduce energy consumption, such as subsidising insulation for homes.

In the most important area that concerns Nigeria which is immigration and home affairs, Guardian said as follows: “During the campaign, Truss has promised to double down on the policy of deporting asylum seekers and other immigrants to Rwanda, and to seek other countries who will take them. It remains to be seen how feasible this is, or if it would have any impact on the numbers of people crossing the Channel by unofficial means, even if some did depart.”

Truss is likely to link any failure to remove people to the continued jurisdiction of the European court of human rights. While removing the UK entirely from its oversight would be complex and tricky, she is likely to push ahead with plans for a so-called UK bill of rights, with fewer protections for asylum seekers and others.

Then on what Guardian calls Culture wars, the newspaper predicted profoundly that Truss is more of a keen amateur culture warrior than a die-hard aficionado, keeping the Tory faithful happy at hustings events with passing swipes at “woke” culture and trans rights. However, if as tipped she appoints Suella Braverman as home secretary and Kemi Badenoch to education, the temperature could rise considerably.

Culture war issues tend to be more focused on seeking debate and political dividing lines than actual policies, but particularly in education it could lead to changes in approach, for example on trans rights and free speech.

Still on Foreign policy and Brexit which dovetail into the core issue if immigration the British media said that wider foreign policy is likely to be more of the same, given Truss led on this under Johnson, so expect more vehement support for Ukraine, plus occasional gaffes such as her recent refusal to say whether the French President, Emmanuel Macron, a neighbour and close ally, is a “friend or foe”.

Truss has made much of her toughness over the Northern Ireland protocol, and her camp has hinted she could trigger article 16, the emergency procedure clause in the post-Brexit deal with the EU, within days of entering No 10. But with so many other crises to face, and the leadership contest over, Truss might decide a potential trade war is not what she needs as well.

The British media say that Truss is a replica of Boris Johnson so this is what Johnson told us he did right from his position then as Foreign Secretary up until when he resigned as PM. The report we are following stated as far back as August 31, 2017, the United Kingdom reinforced its commitment to Nigeria's fight against Boko Haram on Wednesday, through continued counterterrorism training, military support and an expanded humanitarian aid package.

The £200 million ($259 million), five-year emergency assistance package was unveiled on Wednesday afternoon, directly after UK Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson's trip to Nigeria's isolated northeastern regions.

CNN was one of only two broadcasters given access to the foreign secretary's trip, which included visits to Boko Haram stronghold areas in and outside Maiduguri -- the regional capital inside the war zone – where foreign governments and journalists have had limited access for years.

Over the two-day trip, Johnson, along with International Development Secretary, Priti Patel, visited military compounds and camps for the internally displaced in the country's northeast –

regions where ongoing violence has left tens of thousands dead and millions displaced.

At a clinic in Maiduguri on Wednesday, villagers who had fled Boko Haram violence recounted harrowing tales of terror and destruction.

A male farmer, who has not been named for his protection, told CNN that unarmed Boko Haram fighters first came to his village but local villagers sent them away. A few days later, the militants returned and shot him in the arm. He was then taken to the clinic, run by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Asked what he wanted to be done about the situation, he said simply: “The government needs to defeat them.”

Another victim, a 26-year-old man, narrowly escaped a suicide bombing and had come to the clinic to recover after losing one of his arms. He also was badly burned. He told CNN he was past the point of anger, saying: “What I want is to get on with my life and get an education."

Beat Amin Mosimann, head of the ICRC in Borno State, said most injuries seen at the clinic are from bomb blasts, adding that most of the suicide bombers – and their victims – were children.”

Then in August 2017, CNN reported that last month, researchers at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point and Yale University spoke to this alarming trend, reporting that a majority of suicide bombers used by the terror group are women and children.

Johnson reaffirmed the United Kingdom’s commitment to supporting Nigeria’s military counterterrorism units to eradicate these terror tactics.

To date, the British government has provided military training to 28,000 Nigerian troops in the fight against Boko Haram. In addition, over 40 UK military personnel have been deployed to Nigeria long-term.

Johnson also spoke of the “profound knock-on effects” that Boko Haram violence has brought to UK shores.

“The consequences of this catastrophe are felt in our country. When you have massive pressures like this – when you have massive tracts of the country under control by terrorists, of course it drives great waves of migration, drives great waves of refugees to our country," he said.

“...They (Boko Haram) played a huge part in causing a political crisis in Italy and other European countries.”

“When we fail to cure one sore, infection spreads,” Johnson added.

An estimated 20,000 people have been killed by Boko Haram, with 1.7 million displaced and threats of widespread famine now looming because of ongoing attacks and a growing internally displaced population unable to tend to their farmlands.

An estimated 8.5 million people also are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance, according to the British government.

Of particular concern are the 450,000 children at risk of severe acute malnutrition, according to the UN agency.

The United Kingdom's expanded humanitarian package will deliver food, medicine and infrastructural access for aid workers and educational support to the country over the next five years.

However, Patel cautioned that the package was meant as a supportive role, calling on the Nigerian government to do more in helping Nigerians “to stand on their own two feet and rebuild their lives in safety.”

“Terrorism knows no borders and the Nigerian government must now follow our lead to stop innocent people dying and securing the area so that these people can rebuild their lives in safety – reducing the threat of radicalization and migration for the UK at home,” she said. Whilst we hope that the coming Truss administration builds on what Johnson has done in the area of security assistance to Nigeria to battle terrorism, there is more that we expect Great Britain to do to check political corruption in Nigeria by political office holders who take public funds and domicile in their foreign or offshore accounts and majority of these corrupt politicians past and present, have bought up large housing assets in Great Britain with public funds they stole from Nigeria.  Helping Nigerians get back these humongous assets to be returned to Nigeria and to the Nigerian public is of the highest priority to Nigerians. I will say more soon but first, I think for some of us who had since predicted that Liz Truss would emerge as the winner of the leadership contest that began about a month ago, I think her physical beauty was not really the influence for our decision to go with her. She is also brilliant and is said to be a good family lady with well mannered Children who are teenagers.

However, a scientist who wrote on the title “Survival of the prettiest: The mysterious power of attractive people” believes that being pretty makes someone attractive to a lot of people.

According to this author, from picking mates to choosing politicians, new research says society’s bias toward attractiveness has ugly results. This was in a piece done on March 13, 2016 by Charlie Gillis.

He argued thus: “Authority on an enigma scientist has been unwrapping for the past half-century. For millennia, philosophers and poets have marvelled at the mysterious power attractive people wield over us. Only in the 1960s, though, did psychological research reveal the sad truth: basically, we persuade ourselves of their greatness, projecting virtues onto the beautiful without the slightest knowledge of whether they possess them. Study after study has since shown we assume them to be smarter, kinder, more generous and more trustworthy than their less comely counterparts – even when we have nothing more to go on than pictures of their faces. This tendency, referred to as the “what’s beautiful is good” stereotype, affects men and women; adults and children; people of every race, religion and ethnicity. It applies whether the target of our gaze is a potential mate or a prospective head of government."

However, from empirical evidence, the new Prime minister of Great Britain is not just physically beautiful but mentally, intellectually and otherwise, she is a beautiful person. Nigerians are hoping that she extends some of these her virtues to impact on how politics is played in Nigeria because Great Britain as the nation that gave us flag independence, still has many questions unanswered regarding what transpired before, during and after the Independence.” 

The new Government in Great Britain must come to the aid of Nigeria in the area of fighting terrorism and building up the military in Nigeria and also by making sure that the constitutionally protected human rights of Nigerians that are being assaulted and abused with ignominy are redressed. Great Britain must not look away whilst hundreds of thousands of native peoples and Christians are killed by Islamists under the watch of the current government in Nigeria.  Britain must also ensure through their diplomatic prowess that Nigeria’s all-important 2023 election is free, fair  transparent and peaceful and importantly, Britain must reject any electoral process that is manipulated by the powers that be to their favour if constitutional democracy is to have a fighting chance of surviving in Nigeria beyond the year 2023.

•Emmanuel Onwubiko Is Head of The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) and one time National commissioner of the National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria.

 


Source: News Express

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