Nigerians have right to choose their leaders, says Boris Johnson

Former Prime Minister of Britain, Boris Johnson, yesterday, said Nigerians should have the right to choose their leaders saying that development can only thrive in a democracy.

He also charged Nigerian politicians to ensure that millions of Nigerians realise their potential, identifying education and equal rights as part of the major conditions for unleashing potentials of citizens.

Johnson spoke in Lagos as a keynote speaker at the 16th session of the Osigwe Anyiam-Osigwe yearly lecture series, with the theme: “Rehumanising Human Experience: A Synopsis of Anyiam-Osigwe’s Treatises.”

He noted that while millions of Nigerians are yet to reach their full potential, it behoves politicians to create conducive environment in which people can unleash their potential, “because not only that it is morally right, it is surely right if we care about human development and to give everyone the chance to express their potential.”

The British parliamentarian said citizens would unleash their potentials if they were treated equally before the law, noting that equality before the law made Britain what it is today.

He said: “First and most importantly, you got to have equality under the law because that is the foundation of freedom. Whoever you are, rich or poor, you will receive the same scrutiny, same protection in Britain.

“The next great freedom is the right to choose those who govern you and the right to remove them from office. It is called democracy,” he added.

He called for an open society where diversity can be tolerated, explaining that such made London a hub of talents.

Johnson, who made a case for a stronger mutually beneficial relationship between Nigeria and Britain, said it would further help both countries to unleash their potentials.

He said: “Now is the time. When the world is so uncertain, when some nations are disentangling, now is the time for Britain and Nigeria, two great democracies to work together. Nigeria can be a renewable superpower and still be a producer of oil and gas. We could be much more together.”

Other areas for continued collaborations, according to him, include free trade, free speech and free elections.

“You need a society that is open and that is tolerant to develop human potentials,” he said, adding that, “urban successes are built on freedom under the law.”

Johnson said what London is to Britain is what Lagos is to Africa. He, however, urged Lagos State Government to improve its transportation system, noting that spending long hours in traffic can be very frustrating.

He advised the state government to understudy mass transit programme of Britain and not to go to “China or Russia.”

According to him, Lagos, London and Los Angeles are the three states leading in creative industry. He paid tribute to the late Chief Executive Officer of the Africa Movie Academy Award (AMAA), Peace Maria Anyiam-Osigwe, for her efforts in developing creative industry in Africa.

Welcoming dignitaries to the event, Charles Anyiam-Osigwe said the lecture “is an adventure within the bounds of the submission of Emmanuel Anyiam-Osigwe on how we can vastly realise a better world order. It is in this construct that he variously espouses on man as the primary moving force of sentient existence. In his fragments, he avers that ‘man is the centre of the universe’. It is in this context that he evaluates the primacy of man as the driving wheel of sentient existence and its social order.

“The existence of poverty and the social disequilibrium that characterises the present world order is that man has lost contact with the attributes and definitions that qualify him as a human person. In the disconnection of his mental identity from his esoteric being, the human person loses the insight, which comes with his intuitive prowess beyond the mundane.”

Some of the dignitaries at the event include, President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who was represented by former deputy governor of Lagos State, Otunba Femi Pedro, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, represented by his deputy, Obafemi Hamzat, former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku and the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi.

Pedro said Tinubu is already preparing himself to take Nigeria to greater heights. He urged participants and dignitaries that graced the event to be rest assured that Nigeria is in great hands. “Nigeria is on a great journey, Tinubu is the pilot,” Pedro said.

Anyaoku spoke glowingly about the achievements of Mr. Johnson, especially in making the welfare of the people a priority.

He said Mr. Johnson is a remarkable British politician and leader.

“He has so far left legacies in modern British politics. He was the Prime Minister, who followed the decision of the majority of the British people…it was he, therefore (in popular parlance) who got Brexit done.

“I believe if we were to effectively pursue the theme of this lecture, comprehensive welfare of the people should be the bedrock of policies and actions of politicians and actions across the world,” he stated.

He enjoined Nigerians to be patriotic and avoid demeaning or de-marketing the country.

Meanwhile, the crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) got worsened as a High Court, sitting in Makurdi, Benue State, yesterday, restrained Dr. Iyorchia Ayu from parading himself as the national chairman of the party.

This followed an ex-parte application filed by a chieftain of the PDP, Comrade Terhide Utaan, who sought an interim injunction restraining Ayu from further parading himself as the national chairman of the party.

In suit number MHC/85/ 2023 and motion number MHC/633M/2023 between Comrade Utaan and Senator Iyorchia Ayu and the PDP as respondents, before Justice W. I. Kpochi, the plaintiff sought for an order of interim injunction, restraining the 1st defendant, Dr. Ayu from further parading himself as the national chairman of the PDP, having lost membership of the party, pending the hearing and determination of motion on notice already filed.

The application was supported by a 15-paragraph affidavit, which annexed three exhibits as A1, A2 and B.

The exhibits are the applicant’s membership cards of the 2nd defendants (PDP), receipts for payment of dues and the vote of no confidence passed on the first defendants (Ayu) by his Igyorov council ward in Gboko local government.

Justice Kpochi adjourned the case to April 14, 2023 for further hearing.

The court order followed Ayu’s suspension by his ward at the weekend for allegedly engaging in anti-party activities.

However, Ayu described his suspension as a nullity, just as he argued that only the National Executive Committee (NEC) could carry out such action.

Ayu claimed that some members of the executive committee of his ward’s chapter of the party were teleguided by those he called political gamblers in Makurdi to cause mischief.

In a statement released by his Special Adviser on Media and Communications, Simon Imobo-Tswam, he said: “Article 57(7) of the PDP Constitution as amended in 2017 expressly prohibits any organ of the party or executive committee of the party at the Ward or State level from taking any disciplinary measure against any member of the party’s National Executive Committee.”

A resolution passed at the end of the meeting of executives of the party at the Ward level and read by its Secretary of Igyorov, Mr. Banger Dooyum, reads: “The PDP Executive Committee of Igyorov council ward of Gboko local government area in Benue state has passed a vote of no confidence on the PDP National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, and suspended him from the party.”

Mr. Dooyum, while reading the resolution of the ward Exco, said: “He (Ayu) was involved in anti-party activities, making the PDP to lose at his ward and local government along with his allies, who also didn’t vote at the governorship election.”

Ayu was also accused of not paying his yearly dues as enshrined by the party’s constitution.

Worried by the development, a member of the Board of Trustees of the party, Chief Olabode George, called for calm and pleaded with the warring factions not to do anything that will exterminate the party.

According to him, Ayu made mistakes for not abiding by his promise of stepping down if a northerner emerged as the presidential candidate of the party, and so, caused the party to lose presidential election.

He, however, warned party members to use post election period for reconciliation and not to finally kill the party.

He said it is only the NEC that can suspend or punish Ayu or any national leader of the party, urging members in Ayu’s ward to follow due process.

Reacting to the development, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, said the fight against Ayu, has just started.

The governor stated that it has now become unthinkable to allow any person, who was unable to deliver his political unit, ward, council or state for the PDP during the last general elections, to preside over the party.

Wike stated this yesterday, during the inauguration of the remodeled Community Secondary School in Okoro-nu-Odo, in Obio-Akpor Council of the state.

The governor said it would be morally offensive for Ayu to remain as the national chairman of the PDP after the catastrophic defeat of the party under his watch in his unit, ward, local government, state and national level.

According to him, the suspension of Ayu is the beginning of the fight to save the party.