Nigeria is seeking Britain’s partnership in the area of lottery, in order to strengthen its regulatory and trust agencies’ activities, an official said on Thursday at Birmingham in the UK.
Alhaji Tanimu Turaki, the Minister of Special Duties, said this after meeting with officials of the UK National Lottery Regulation.
He said this was to enable them operate in line with best global practices.
“We are here with stakeholders from the National Lottery Commission and the Lottery Trust Fund to tap from the wealth of experience of the UK lottery body.
“This is to enable us strengthen our laws to get more benefits from lottery and to enable government generate more funds for good causes through lottery.
“Taking into account the robust deliberation we have had with the UK Lottery Commission, it has deepened our understanding about lottery business.
“To this end, we have submitted a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU),” Turaki said.
The minister said the MOU, when signed, would among other issues, ensure technical support from the UK to Nigeria’s lottery agencies.
Turaki, who led a 12-man delegation to the UK, said a lot of work had been done to make Nigerians understand the difference between lottery and gambling.
“Initially, there was this perception that lottery was similar to gambling, and that led to prejudices, even from religious leaders trying to discourage people.
“However, because of the activities of the Lottery Commission, Nigerians now understand the benefits derivable from lottery,’’ he said.
Sen. Aisha Alhassan, a member of the Senate Committee on Special Duties, said the National Assembly was ready to make laws or amend enabling laws of the nation’s regulatory commission.
She said the legislative body would gladly do so if such demands were brought forward.
Alhassan, who expressed satisfaction with the British lottery system, said Nigeria could tap from the well of experience of that country’s lottery agencies.
“This became necessary in line with Nigeria’s peculiarities and circumstances,’’ she said.
On his part, Mr Damien Dodo, the Chairman, Board of the National Lottery Commission, said “lottery is not gambling. It is good business. It is good for the individual, government, and society.
“There are some degrees of skepticism, but the commission has embarked on mass sensitisation across the nation so that the public can understand what we can benefit from it.’’
He said Nigeria would leverage on the experience of other countries where lottery had become a veritable source for impacting on the social and economic life of the nation.
“We are leveraging on the experience of the UK lottery body. We understand the philosophy that has inspired their evolution and that will guide our process of growth,’’ Dodo said.
He added that the commission was reviewing its legal and legislative framework to further strengthen its operations.
In the same vein, Mr Ben Haden, Director of the UK Lottery Regulation, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that experience-sharing was a move in the right direction.
“It is important to look far and wide to understand the experience of others, and it is very encouraging to see Nigeria take that step,” he said.