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Low Women Participation in Politics Holding Nigeria Back, Says Outgoing British High Commissioner Laing

“This just has to change. I hope the incoming administration can do something about it.”

The outgoing British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing has condemned the chances the last rounds of elections gave to women to participate in politics in Nigeria.

She insisted that the numbers of women in politics in the country was one of the factors the country is held back.

Laing, speaking at a ceremony in Abuja to celebrate the newest Chevening alumni, said: “I have the highs and the lows in Nigeria. There is no place like Nigeria, it is always in my heart. One of my lows is the outcome of this election in terms of women participation, it was not good enough. 

“Nigerian women are doing so good in all works of life but not in politics, men are virtually everywhere in politics and not the women, this is holding the country back and this just has to change. I hope the incoming administration can do something about it.”

She noted that one of her highs in Nigeria is her experience with Nigerian art and culture, noting Nigerians are everywhere in the arts.

She explained that: “The Chevening Scholarship is the UK government’s prestigious International Scholarship scheme, funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) and partner organisations. Established in 1983, this programme runs in over 160 countries, as an important element of Britain’s public diplomacy effort. Young professionals with outstanding academic and leadership talents are given the opportunity to study for a one-year Master’s degree at any UK University of their choice, after which they are required to return to Nigeria to assist in further development of the country. 

“Chevening Scholarships are therefore structured to create lasting positive relationships with Nigeria. For the most recent applications, 141 candidates are being interviewed across Nigeria out of 9800 plus applications received between August and November last year following a rigorous selection process in London. Over a 1,100 more applications from the previous year!

“There is no doubt that this group of Nigerians represent some of the brightest minds who will be empowered to lead change for present and future generations.  A Chevening award costs £36,000 on average and partners are encouraged to contribute either half or quarter of this sum.”

She noted that: “This year, the British High Commission is keen to work with key Nigerian Individuals that are willing to work with the FCDO with the aim to increase the number of Chevening slots available to Nigeria. Organisations are able to enhance the value and brand of their programmes through association with the UK government’s flagship international scholarship scheme – leveraging the strong reputation and operational vehicle of Chevening with an aim to contribute to work force development through excellent education for national growth.”

Michael Olugbode in Abuja

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