The erstwhile British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, on Monday in Lagos listed five ways that Nigeria can fully tap its potential. They include: credible elections, equality before the law, security, education and a good transport system.
The politician, who is also a former mayor of London called on Nigeria and the United Kingdom to deepen their partnership, saying the two nations share some similarities, especially with regard to Lagos and London.
The one-time journalist spoke during the 16th Anyiam-Osigwe Lecture Series, titled: ‘Rehumanising Human Experience: A Synopsis of Anyiam-Osigwe’s Treaties’.
The high-level event was put together by the Osigwe Anyiam-Osigwe Foundation, in collaboration with the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs.
Johnson praised the abundant human resource available in the country but regretted the inability of its leaders to fully tap this resource.
The guest speaker noted that equality under the law is the basis upon which human potential is guaranteed. He urged governments at all levels, to ensure enforcement of the law without fear or favour.
He harped on effective transportation system as an engine of growth referencing his work as mayor and the progress made in rail, cable car and other forms of mobility as signposts of enabling business.
He also touched safety and security as enablers of growth. Because according to him, the safer people are, the more easier it will be the think up creative ways to improve themselves.
“The UK has a population of about 66 million and Nigeria has over 200 million and still growing. How many of our people have reached their full potential? The job of politicians is to create opportunities for people to reach their potential because not only is that morally right, but it is also the right way for the economy,” he said.
“What we are seeing in both our countries is a colossal waste of human potential and all my years as Mayor of London or British Prime Minister, it has been ways to unleash the talents.
“The first and most important thing that makes a country thrive is that it has to be safe. You have got to have equality under the law because that is the foundation for freedom.
“I know some of the problems that are faced in this part of the country but I know that these bandits and terrorists must and will be defeated and eventually, law and order will prevail. I also want you to know that the UK stands ever-ready to help.
“We, in the UK, have had our issues with terrorists in the past and I am proud to say that London is one of the safest cities in the world.
“Whoever you are, you will receive the same scrutiny and protection in the UK and this is the most important thing. It is a precaution for economic growth.
“The next freedom is the right to choose those who govern you and the right to remove them from office. It is called democracy and it is precious and under attack the whole time.
“Why did Vladimir Putin launch his evil attack on Ukraine? It is because he could see that the Ukrainians were choosing a different path. They were going through a different democratic system that he was permitted to the Russian people. By the way, I believe the Ukrainians will win. By the way, why did Putin underestimate the Ukrainian people?
“It is because he does not practice a democratic system and he surrounds himself with sycophants. He had no democratic checks and balances.
“The third and crucial condition for releasing human potential is that you need a society that is an open system.”
In his remarks, the chairman of the event, former Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Emeka Anyaoku urged politicians to ensure that people are the bedrock of their policies.
Anyaoku said: “In our contemporary world, where internal and external conflicts abound, where there seems to be the revival of inequalities of the cold war; a world where massive poverty and lack of life supporting facility, continue to be the experience of people in Africa, Asia and other states; a world where the global community is facing a cataclysmic threat from climate change.
“I believe that if we are to effectively pursue the theme of this 16th session of the Osigwe Anyiam-Osigwe Foundation Lecture series namely Rehumanising human experience, consideration of the comprehensive welfare of the people should be the bedrock of policies and actions of politicians across the world.”
Also speaking, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, who was represented by his deputy, Dr Obafemi Hamzat urged Nigerians to desist from celebrating negative things that affect the country.
Sanwo-Olu said: “The topic is very timely, especially for us in this country and it is an issue that we need to debate especially in a world that is affected by inequality, terrorism, pandemics, rising geo-political tension.
“Rehumanising the human experience is a clarion call that must be taken up collectively by all of humanity and for all of humanity. This holistic approach to the whole of humanity is important to all of the late Anyiam-Osigwe’s philosophical thinking and writing and it has become a necessity and challenge being confronted by the world today.
“I can say from our experience here in Lagos that tackling unprecedented challenges requires opening up to a new level of thinking that is anchored to the integration of noble political inspirations. That is the only viable way forward for humanity and the only way to guarantee a future for all of us.
“It is also important for us as a people that we don’t continue to dehumanize ourselves. We will go nowhere if all we celebrate are the negatives and leave out all the good things we have done.”
In his opening remarks, Charles Anyiam-Osigwe noted that rehumanising remains the basis for sustainable development.
He said: “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.
“In the view of Anyiam-Osigwe, plagued by all forms of distortions in all aspects of human indulgence, locked in a sea of yawning economic poverty and inequality, fundamentally subjected to eroding of the moral content at the level of the individual and community, and contaminated by a highly diminished spiritual capital, the human person needs to be rehumanised to save the world from infinite regression and the consequence of moral death and destruction.”
Former deputy governor of Lagos state, Femi Pedro, represented president-elect Bola Tinubu. Other dignitaries included politcians, captains of industry, the media, among others.