With the dust from Nigeria’s 2023 general election yet to settle, a former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Mr. Boris Johnson has stressed that the people should always be allowed to freely choose who would govern them.
The advice from Johnson came just as Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, also advised Nigerians to desist from making derogatory remarks about the nation, but rather promote the positives in the country.
Johnson and Sanwo-Olu, spoke at the 16th edition of the Emmanuel Onyechere Osigwe Anyiam-Osigwe lectures with the theme: “Rehumanising Human Experience, A Synopsis of Anyiam-Osigwe Treatises,” held at Marriot Hotel, Ikeja, yesterday.
Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was recently declared winner in what has been described as a controversial presidential election.
Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) polled 8.8 million votes to defeat Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party and Peter Obi, who scored 6.9 million and 6.1 million, respectively, to emerge president in a disputed election that was heavily criticised by international observers.
Also, the governorship election that held thereafter recorded electoral violence, intimidation and suppression of voters in some state.
Owing to these, Johnson said the job of politicians was to create the condition in which the people would be able to unleash their potential.
Johnson explained: “Imagine the Russian police arresting Vladimir Putin? Can you imagine the Chinese police doing the same to Xi Zing Ping? It shows to me that the law is enforced in my country without fear or favour.
“Whether you are rich or poor, you will receive the same scrutiny and the same protection, the same protection in the UK that is the first and most crucial freedom and the precondition for economic growth and investment. “Freedom under the law. Freedom to live your life as you choose within the law, provided you do no harm to others. With extreme freedom and indispensable freedom is the right to choose those who govern you.
“You have the right to remove them and it’s very precious, and it works. And it’s under attack the whole time. Why did Vladimir Putin decide to launch his evil and criminal attack on Ukraine triggering the worst war in Europe 80 years? It was because he could see that with the Ukrainians choosing a different path and going towards an open liberal democratic system as different from the one that he was committing the Russian people to, if Ukraine succeeded and align more closely with Western democracy, the Russian people will themselves demand change. That would be under threat.
“Why, by the way, do you think he miscalculated so bad? Why did he fail to foresee the heroic resistance of Ukrainians? I’m pretty proud of what the Ukrainians did.”
“If we care about human development, we would give everyone the chance to express the talents that the Lord has given them,” he added.
Besides, Johnson insisted that democracy still remains the best option for the people, adding that it was the fear that the Russian people may go the democratic way that forced Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine.
He stressed the importance of human capital and how best to maximise the potential of the citizens.
He stated that government must ensure some criteria if it hopes to enhance human capital, in order to stimulate economic growth. These according to him include: Safety and equality under the law; the right to choose and remove those who govern them; freedom to live as they wish provided within the law; guaranteeing a society that is open and without discrimination.
The Former British Minister also added the government should ensure a seamless and cost-effective transportation system in the state and provide qualitative education for both male and girl children to avoid the extinction of human talents.
He, therefore, called for further collaboration and synergy between Nigeria and Britain in order to tackle similar challenges together and do more together.
Speaking further, Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat said: “We should not as a people undermine our society by always looking at our negatives, rebroadcasting our negatives and pushing down our positives.
“It is for us to understand that as a nation, we make mistakes but we must look at the good side and continue to build our nation.”
Sanwo-Olu added that until everyone was free from poverty, war and violence, “no one is free and the topic is a clarion call and challenge that must be taken up collectively by all of humanity, for all of humanity.”
Earlier in his remarks, the former Secretary General of the Common Wealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku urged political leaders across the world to effectively pursue the theme of the lecture by making the comprehensive welfare of the people the bedrock of policies and actions that will make the world more habitable for everyone.
In his welcome address, the Coordinator General Osigwe Anyiam Osigwe Foundation, Charles Anyiam-Osigwe stated that the purpose of the organisation was to realise a better world order which could be made possible with the potential built-in man.
He noted that, “in earth-bound existence, whether in the development of the sciences, technology, architecture, environment, economics and economic policy, agriculture, industry, ethical sustainability, man is the factor in giving direction and determining the depth of development.”