British envoy defends amalgamation, cautions against break-up
The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Dr. Andrew Pocock, at the weekend in Lagos, admonished Nigerians not to contemplate disintegration as the nation arrives at the milestone of 100 years of amalgamation, noting that there are great benefits in staying together as one united country.
He said Nigeria had grown since its foundation and nobody should think of pulling out of the union. 'It has grown in terms of its population, economy, regional, continental and global impact. So, I think it is not right to say that Nigeria hasn't grown, and it is still growing economically. I think if Nigeria can pull together and stay as one united country, which it has every prospect of doing, the future is good.'
Pocock said whether the British did the right thing by amalgamating the northern and southern Nigeria was a decision that Nigerians should make, looking back at their own history.
According to him, without amalgamation, Nigeria would not have been the international force it is today, 'So, it was the right thing to do then.'
Attempting to enumerate the achievements that Nigeria should be celebrating within this period of 100 years of amalgamation, the British envoy said 'it is the giant of the region and it is the giant of the continent and I think it is quite enough to celebrate.'
He said he was not aware of the clause in the instrument that legitimised the amalgamation, which gives liberty to any section that is not satisfied with the union to pull out of the country after 100 years of its existence.
'I have no idea whether that clause exists and that is really a decision for Nigerians and not for the British government. I do not think that the British government has any authority on this; it is a matter very much for Nigerians to decide. But with 100 years to celebrate, I think, one should look towards more positive outcome in the future,' Pocock said.
The envoy was in Lagos to attend the Eagle Toastmasters Club Speech Contest with the theme: Nigeria at 100; Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, at Eko Hotels.
He told The Guardian that he had just been introduced to toastmasters and it struck them as a very worthy and important organisation to deal with.
Twelve contestants from a pool of almost 400 Toastmasters in 15 clubs around Nigeria earned a chance to compete in the Toastmasters international speech contest. Mr. Patrick Oluyide came first to take home the trophy for best speaker and by extension, brought pride to their club.