Number one bestselling author and HolyWood Magazine Humanitarian of the Year 2019, Pastor Reno Omokri, has urged the government of the United Kingdom to remove every barriers such as IELTS, restrictions on account opening and many others obstacle to trade against the Commonwealth countries in order to attract more development to its economy as well as grow and double the Commonwealth advantage from its current state of 25%.
According to Omokri, it is an insult for a Nigerian who studied using the English Language as Lingua franca to be asked to prove via the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) that he can speak English.
He said this is even more embarrassing following the fact that the number of Nigerian students in the UK rose from a mere 8000 before Brexit to about 60,000 as at 2022, according to figures by the British High Commission in Nigeria.
The globetrotter and former aide to ex President Goodluck Jonathan spoke during a parlay with the British High Commissioner In Nigeria and many other prominent members of the UK government, former Hollywood actor, business and executives as well as prominent Nigerians such as the Nigerian business magnate and Common sense senator, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, among any others.
Omokri said that the UK government needs to take away the barriers hindering growth of trade in the Commonwealth nations if it would attract more development to its economy.
According to him, because of the various obstacles put in place by the United Kingdom and other countries, a lot of countries, including the Commonwealth nations, are beginning to prefer doing business with the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). He said when such countries enter into such trade agreements with the BRICS countries, then business is carried out not in Dollars, Euros or Pounds Sterling but can be in the Chinese Yuan!
The Business Insider Influencer of the Year 2022 said members of the Commonwealth would not need to go outside the UK to either seek funds or do business if there are no trade and other stringent barriers against Commonwealth nations by UK.
His statement reads thus:
“Before Brexit, we had less than 10,000 Nigerians students going to the United Kingdom. After Brexit, it went from 8,000 to 66,000. So, you can see that when you are in control of your Visa policies and all of that, we see more of Commonwealth advantage. These are figures from the UK High Commission in Nigeria.”
“It was 8000 before Brexit and then, last year (2022) it went up to 65, 929.”
“Now, if you want trade to blossom within the Commonwealth, you have to take away every possible obstacle to trade. Forbes has listed at least seven Nigerians in their list of 100 richest people in the world – Dangote, Abdul Samad Rabiu, then you have Mike Adenuga. You also have Tony Elumelu, Femi Otedola, Folorunsho Alakija. Now, if you look at these people, before Brexit, where were tey getting credit? Mike Adenuga was very wealthy before he started Globacom. My wife worked in his bank. So, we had an idea of how wealthy he was. But you don’t start a conglomerate like Glo with your own money. What if it goes burst, you are going to lose everything.”
“Nigerians go to the United Kingdom. They can’t open a bank account. Nigerians go to Paris and they are able to open a bank account! They go to America, they are able to open a bank account.”
“When Adenuga needed $265 Million, guess where he got it from? BNP Paribas, because he was able to go to Paris and open an account. If he had been able to go to London and opened an account, with Commonwealth advantage, where would he have sourced that credit from?”
“So, you are hurting yourselves when you are doing this [placing restrictions in any form that hinder free trade].”
“Nigeria, for example, with all of the challenges we’ve had with the All Progressives Congress (APC), is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and if you isolate Lagos for instance, That is to say that, if Lagos was a country, Lagos would be one of the fastest growing economies in the whole world bar none.”
“So, we need to lift these obstacles and then, that Commonwealth advantage, we need to grow it from 21% to even 50%.”
“If you allow people from the Commonwealth open bank accounts in the United Kingdom so they have credit scores; they’ve got relationships, then, [pointing at former actor] John is a former actor. If I wanted to do a Nollywood movie and I needed a million Dollars, I won’t go to BNP Paris; I won’t go to the Bank of America. It would be natural for me to go to the United Kingdom.”
“Now, going back to the 65,929 (Nigerian students in the UK as at 2022), it seems like a lot right? If you remove the International English Language Testing System (IELT), it [Number of students in the UK] will be more than that. Because, that’s a barrier. How can I Speak English in Nigeria and I want to go to England to study and you are telling me to prove that I can speak English, its almost like an insult, [Pointing to the British High Commissioner in Niger and asking rhetorically, Don’t you think so?
“So, remove all the barriers. You have too many barriers already. You have, so to say, your Independence back. Now, there are a lot of things that you can do. We talked about Maldives, incidentally, I have been there, then Singapore and how a lot of things ended, its because of the privy council. We used to have that in Nigeria and you know how we got rid of it? It wasn’t because it was bad or because we wanted more Independence, No. What happened in Nigeria is that they had a trumped up charges against Awolowo (Ex Nigerian minister of finance, budget and national planning) in 1963 and they knew that if the case got to the privy council, obviously Awolowo would win. And the government said, ok, you know what, Nigeria is no longer a member of the Privy Council! And that’s just what happened.”
“So, we can have the Privy Council back. Its for political matters. We just had an election in Nigeria and now its in the courts. So, if you had to decide the election in the privy council, that’s almost like we don’t have Independence. But if you say, no, you don’t have to do that. But for certain matters, let everything end in the Privy Council. And, Maybe the Privy Council can move from country to country, so its not just in the United Kingdom.”
“Maybe the Privy Council can be made up of people from not just the UK, Maybe people from Botswana [and other countries] and so, its wider. It will help UK; it will help the Commonwealth countries. A lot of Commonwealth countries right now find it easier doing business with the BRICS countries. You guys in the United Kingdom think Russia has such a bad name; they invaded Ukraine and all of that. But a lot of countries, some of them are even Commonwealth countries, say ‘look, we will do business with Russia and China; we will do business not in the Dollar, not in the Euro, not in the Pounds but in the Yuan!’”