My first impressions about Nigeria — British Deputy High Commissioner Baxter

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By Francis Ugwu

The British Deputy High Commissioner in Lagos, Mr Jonny Baxter, says his first few weeks in Nigeria have revealed the people as passionate, full of energy, and with entrepreneurial spirit

Baxter, who is new in office, said this in his maiden media interview, with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos, on Thursday.

“I have been here for three and a half weeks, so I’m still very new. Nigeria has been an absolutely amazing place to be, and as you will know, Nigeria, is well known to the UK.

“I was really looking forward to coming to Nigeria, particularly to Lagos, to enjoy the vibrant culture, the vibrant food, all of the things that Lagos produces and is well known for and I have been lucky enough to come across all those things.

“Meeting Nigerians has been fantastic, and the welcome I have had has been absolutely incredible. I love the fact that all the Nigerians I have met have been passionate, have been full of energy for the things that they are talking about and things they care about.

“I have really noticed the entrepreneurial spirit, and those things are just brilliant to be around, as you can’t help but be uplifted by it. And you know, I’ve been so lucky to meet an incredible group of people already,” he said.

He said that in his short time in the country, he had been able to visit the beach, amongst other exciting places.

“So I went out to a beach and I sat quietly for a while and read Jagua Nana, which is quite an old book by Cyprian Ekwensi, and really enjoyed doing that,” he said.

The envoy said that it was fantastic when after tweeting about it afterwards, he got brilliant responses from Nigerians and suggestions on other things he could do.

He said he had also enjoyed his visit to the Lufasi Nature Park, where he got to see both the amazing work that had been done there and also the children and the students who were enjoying the place of peace in the city that is alive all the time.

“Suddenly, there is this green space where you can sit down and enjoy the trees, hear the birds and that was a lovely, lovely trip, so I’ve enjoyed all of that,” he said.

On Nigerian cuisine, he said, “Everyone has asked me about Jollof rice, and I already had Jollof rice, and I really enjoyed it. That has been fantastic.

“There are some things that I haven’t tasted, but I’m looking forward to eating more Nigerian food and just experiencing what there is.”

He reiterated his commitment to strengthening the bilateral relations between both countries.

Baxter, before becoming the British Deputy High Commissioner (DHC) in Lagos, served as His Majesty’s Ambassador to the Republic of South Sudan from January 2021 to July 2023.

He was Deputy Director, Finance and Performance Department at the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office – FCDO (then DFID) from 2018 to 2020.

He has held various senior positions in the Department of International Development (DFID).

These include running the Human Development Department from 2017-2018, Principal Private Secretary to the Secretary of State from 2014-2016, and head of the Higher Education Taskforce Secretariat from 2013 to 2014, all at the DFID Headquarters, London.

Prior to these roles, he did postings in Sudan, Iraq, Guyana and Tanzania.

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