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Praise for Chuka Umunna MP on Nigeria questions

Chuka Umunna

New Streatham MP Chuka Umunna has received praise for asking a series of questions
in Parliament about Nigeria.

Reverend Wale Hudson-Roberts of the African Development
Forum (ADF) has commended Umumma for ‘putting Nigeria on the map in Westminster’.
He says he is looking to other African heritage MPs to also raise concerns about
UK policy on Africa.

Umunna was appointed as Vice Chair of the Nigeria All-Party Parliamentary Group
in May and intends to use his position to build dialogue between Britain and
Nigeria and support development within the country.

Before recess, Umunna tabled questions seeking British government assessment
of the political situation in Nigeria.

Parliamentary Under Secretary, Alistair Burt, who has responsibility for Africa
and Asia, responded:

“… Since assuming the presidency, President Jonathan
has made welcome commitments on his determination to address corruption and
conflict in the Niger Delta in Nigeria’s middle-belt; and to bring about lasting
electoral reform during his term as president.

“It will be vital for Nigeria that its government delivers on these commitments,
particularly building on the reconstitution of the Independent National Electoral
Commission, to achieve credible and peaceful Presidential and Gubernatorial
elections in 2011. The UK, through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the
Department for International Development and partners in the international community,
are continuing to support Nigeria in these efforts.”

A question to ministers about UK development assistance to Nigeria was answered
by Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State Stephen O’Brien who stated that “Nigeria
is a hugely important country to the development of Africa” and confirmed
that aid programmes there were currently under review alongside all of Britain’s
overseas development commitments.

Mr Umunna, whose Streatham constituency has substantial West African numbers
added:

“Nigerian elections are due in 2011, and I hope the election process
there will be able to run as smoothly as possible with democracy functioning
fully and effectively. I will continue to press ministers here to ensure that
Britain does all it can to provide whatever assistance Nigeria and its people
ask for in this regard.”

When parliament resumes in early September, the ADF – faith based organisers
of the ‘Dried UP Drowned Out’ summit – will be looking to MPs like Umunna and
others to support their campaign. The summit will debate the effects of climate
change in Africa.

Experts say that up to182 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa could die of
diseases directly attributable to climate change by the end of the 21st century.

Revd Wale Hudson-Roberts of the ADF said:

“We are looking to politicians, especially those from an African background to support us in this campaign.

Many in their constituencies have a direct interest in government policies towards
Africa and its future. We know there are important concerns on the agenda, like
the Nigeria elections which Mr Umunna addresses.”

He added:

“But we also need support from other MPs too; MPs who are willing
to join us. We will continue to find those sympathetic to our cause when parliament
re-assembles.”

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