Ayade laments negative perception of Nigeria overseas, urges British High Commissioner to help reverse trend
Cross River state governor, Professor Ben Ayade Thursday received the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mrs Catriona Laing at the Conference Hall of the Governor’s Office, Calabar, describing her as “somebody of warmth and value”.
Speaking while playing host to Laing and senior officials of the British High Commission, who accompanied her, the governor lamented the negative perception of Nigeria abroad, which he said was partly responsible for low foreign direct investment in the country.
The governor blamed the situation on a negative reportage of the country by the Western media and pleaded with the High Commissioner to help project the real image of the country having been in Nigeria for four years now.
According to Ayade, “Good or bad, the history of Nigeria and that of Britain is intertwined. I am happy we have somebody of value and warmth like you who has been here for four years. I hope the lessons learnt can start changing the narrative about Nigeria.
“The perception of Nigeria will radically change if all the Ambassadors and High Commissioners find time to go round Nigeria and interact. The behavior of less than on percent of the population cannot be used to form an opinion of who we are as a people.
“Nigerians are a very resilient, patient and tolerant people. We are nice, we are warmth, we are intelligent. And this is the message you should take home to Britain- that Nigerians who are good are far more in number. So, the story has to change”
Lamenting Western media’s wrong portrayal of Nigeria, the governor said: “Unfortunately, the Western media reports Nigeria from the negative angle. They do not emphasis that the best surgeon today in the world is a Nigerian and that the inventor of the fastest computer is a Nigerian.
“No Western media has told the story that I’m the first Nigerian Professor to invent groundwater remediation technology. The story they tell is about a Nigerian who has committed a bank robbery or Nigerian cultists who fought on the streets of Dubai but they leave out the bigger picture of Nigerian businessmen who have invested in Dubai.
“I think negative perceptions of Nigeria will be addressed if we have people like you who are open and broad-minded attitudes, visiting the hinterlands of Nigeria”
The import of the High Commissioner’s visit, the Cross River state number one citizen said, was very huge to the state “because you have spoken glowingly about our culture and that is very true.The culture you find in Cross River is actually the real culture of the average African and, unfortunately, this great culture is not being told.
“You are now the true Nigerian Ambassador to the UK, so please help us tell the British people and the world the true Nigerian story.”
Ealier, Mrs Laing said she was happy to be Calabar and expressed delight at the warm hospitality and cultural displays she and her team were treated to, saying it was an amazing experience
The High Commissioner commended Ayade’s strides in industrialization, describing him as “high potential Governor”.
According to her, “we have been to the industrial zone, we have been to the free- trade area and seen some British companies doing some really great work here including the manufacturing of special metres for installation in people’s houses. Something very special is going on here and I also say you be called the high potential Governor and you’re living up to reputation”, she said.
The British High Commissioner to Nigeria also praised the governor for his commitment to gender equality.