Nigeria's next elections raise hope: Britain's Blair

17th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

Britain's ex-prime minister Tony Blair said Wednesday much was expected of the elections due early next year in Nigeria, where past ballots were fraught with violence and fraud.

"I think all the preparations are there and there is a lot of expectations and hope around Nigeria, which is a great thing," Blair told reporters after talks with Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan.

Blair who will be heading to the west African countries of Liberia and Sierra Leone for his charity work, said he was in Nigeria to exchange views with Jonathan.

The president, who came into office in May following the death of Umaru Yar'Adua, wants to run for elections if he gets his party's endorsement.

Blair said he was in the country to exchange views on the goings-on in the world's largest black nation.

"If you don't come to Nigeria, you really don't get a sense of what is happening in Nigeria," said Blair.

"Back in the West things are pretty difficult politically, difficult economically, there is a hugely enhanced interest in Africa and in Nigeria so everyone is kind of working and rating.

"There is a lot of hope and excitement," he said.

Jonathan told Blair that if all works according to his plan, "Nigeria should be generating enough power for use in homes, offices and commercial enterprises by April next year".

The energy-starved but oil-rich Nigeria last month launched a drive to attract foreign investors in its bid to boost its woefully inadequate electricity production.

The country of 150 million people is plagued by daily outages blamed on corruption and mismanagement.

Blair who met Jonathan alongside Jamie Dimon, the CEO of America's J.P. Morgan, hailed the decision by one of the world's leading financial services firm to upgrade its office in Nigeria to a full-scale branch as "a vote of confidence in Nigeria and the Jonathan administration", according to a statement from the presidency.

© 2010 AFP

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