Former Prime Minister of Britain, Boris Johnson, says Nigerians should have the right to choose their leaders saying that development can only thrive in a democracy.
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.” held at Marriott Hotel, Ikeja.
Johnson added that 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 in 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 aligned more closely with Western democracy, the Russian people would themselves demand change. That would be under threat.
“Why, by the way, do you think he miscalculated so badly? 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.
The former British Prime Minister said citizens would unleash their potential 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 have 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.
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 potential.
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 the mass transit programme of Britain and not to go to “China or Russia.”