Your Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Una people. Na fine Lagos people. I hail you! (Wonderful people of Lagos)
How you dey? (How are you?)
I am so glad to be able to join all of you this evening and to be back here in Las Gidi (Lagos) If I may say so, it is particularly special to be here, just a few days before my 70th birthday, in the land of the Owambe (Yoruba word used to characterise Big parties).
I find it hard to believe that nearly thirty years have passed since I first came to this city and having finally made it back here, Ladies and Gentlemen, all I can say is that "God don butta my bread!" (My wish has been granted)
Once again, on this visit, I have been struck by the dynamism and energy of this city, and its vital role as the beating cultural and economic heart, not just of Nigeria, but of the whole region – and, indeed, as one of the major urban and economic centres of the Commonwealth.
Today I have seen something of this city’s remarkable fashion industry, as embodied by the talented designers whose work has been showcased here this evening, and of Lagos’s lively arts scene which the British Council is working to champion, and to link with artists in the United Kingdom. I have also been struck today by the essential role that Lagos plays within the Commonwealth, as the Commonwealth’s seventh most populous city, and its most populous outside the Indian subcontinent. The sheer scale of it all is staggering, not least in terms of the trade between us. But, of course, the challenges it presents are immense, whether around climate change, pollution resource depletion, rapid population growth, unplanned urban expansion or youth unemployment. I can only say that this city can, and must, ensure that its voice is heard as we work together, across the Commonwealth, to address these issues.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In all that we do together, our greatest asset, it seems to me, is the vast array of connections between our people. I know, for example, just how many Lagosians are also Londoners, having homes and businesses in both cities, and making such a profound difference to the economies and societies of both our countries.
Over the years, I have had the great pleasure of meeting some of those people of Nigerian heritage who also call Britain home. Some I have met through my Prince’s Trust, which I started some forty-two years ago to help young people in difficult and disadvantaged situations to turn their lives around and to get into jobs, education and training, or to start their own business – either because they have been supporters or, indeed, beneficiaries. For example, David Oyelowo was helped by my Trust to begin his acting career, and Tinie Tempah is a Prince’s Trust Ambassador. I am enormously proud of these young people in whom we have invested – of course, many of them are much older now, and there are very nearly a million of them, let alone over 90,000 businesses we have help get off the ground (including over 5,000 started by ex-prisoners) that have already contributed to the U.K. economy. As they say, “If life dey show you pepper, my guy make pepper soup!”
(Always look on the bright side of life)
Now, through Prince’s Trust International, we are looking at bringing some of these programmes for the first time to West Africa where, I know, there are immense challenges regarding youth employment or self-employment. I need hardly say that I have been hugely impressed during this last week in West Africa by the imagination and innovative ingenuity demonstrated by young people whom I have met who have set up enterprises designed to tackle so many of the environmental challenges we face, whether in terms of all kinds of waste, renewable energy or sustainability in general. So, with your support, Ladies and Gentlemen, I hope that my Trust can play a part, however small, in helping young people in Lagos, and elsewhere In Nigeria, to achieve their remarkable potential and thus to benefit your country in the long-term.
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Sadly, my time in Lagos, and indeed in Nigeria and West Africa on this Tour, is fast coming to an end, and soon I must take my leave from you all. As I am sure you will all agree, “If person too tey for party, e go follow dem wash plate!” (One shouldn’t outstay their welcome)
I will take with me, however, so many special memories of Nigeria, and of Lagos, and of your essential place within our Commonwealth Family. I need hardly say that I hope, very much, that I might return before too long. In the meantime I shall remember, with such fondness, the warmth of the welcome that I have received here and, in particular, the remarkable vibrancy and energy of this extraordinary city.
My friends, you do well! (Thank you)