Published On: Sat, Jun 25th, 2016

David Cameron’s Message To Muhammadu Buhari – By Onwuasoanya FCC Jones


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This article is coming a little bit late, because I had to watch the drama called Brexit and see how it all ended, I was also interested in finding out the reactions of key players in European politics, especially as it is obvious that a good number of those who have access to political power in Britain are keen on retaining that country’s membership of the European Union. To many economists and politicians of Britain, the EU may have its disadvantages for Britain, but it is better they remain with them, than opting out. But as the referendum has shown, majority, though slim, of British people, think otherwise. They have voted to exit the European Union.

This landmark voting means a lot not just for the Brits who have voted either side of the divide, but for us in Nigeria, who are victims or beneficiaries of the British political system, depending on how we think about it. The Nigerian marriage was  officiated on by the British colonialists without consulting with the Nigerian people, and many Nigerians, including those in the corridors of power have not hidden their desire to see this marriage renegotiated. Every major ethnic group in the country has people and groups within it that are fighting for separation from the entity called Nigeria. To many people, Nigeria has never been a nation and no matter how hard anyone tries, only a renegotiation of the country will solve our problems.

Prime Minister, David Cameron has never being a supporter of Britain’s exit from the European, may be, because of the fear of the unknown. However, he understood even during the elections that majority of the people of Britain are no longer comfortable with the EU arrangement, hence, his promise during the elections that should his Party win majority seats in the Congress, he would organize a referendum to determine the fate of the United Kingdom in the European Union. True to his words and in no confusion about the likely outcome of such referendum, David Cameron, an ardent supporter of the ‘REMAIN’ campaign, organized a referendum against his own will for Brits to decide their fate.

This is the first lesson, the young Conservative politician is teaching our President, Muhammadu Buhari. Democracy is what it is, because it is the rule of the majority, people have to be carried along in taking decisions that affect them. no matter how noble a policy or an idea is, if it is resisted by majority of the people, it has to be stepped down.

Promises made during elections must be kept by responsible leaders. Before Prime Minister David Cameron made the promise to British voters that he was going to conduct a referendum to determine what happens to the United Kingdom’s membership in the EU, he already knew where his vote will go. He believed and still believes that the United Kingdom will be better served if they continued in the EU, but as a respecter of democratic norms, he approved the referendum, and then went into the streets to talk to the people on the benefits of remaining in the EU.

The idea of exiting the EU may turn out a very bad one, but that is one of the pains of democracy, and once you are committed to it, you must uphold its principles. Democracy does not allow one man to think for all people democracy is built on the belief that the more people that participate in the process of decision making for a country, the more likely it is that majority of the people will take responsibility for the outcome of such decisions.

The idea of exiting the EU is a dangerous one with far-reaching consequences on the economy, politics and even existence of the United Kingdom. analysts have even predicted that the triumph of the ‘LEAVE’ vote may bring an end to the unitedness of the UK. Scotland which is one of the four countries that make up the UK voted massively for the UK to remain in the EU, and it is believed that he Scots are especially interested in the UK’s continued membership of the EU, because they see that as a measure to check Britain’s political dominance of their country. David Cameron understands that majority of UK citizens prefer a continuation of the Union as it presently is, but he cannot railroad them into casting their votes for the UK’s continued stay in the EU, as that may go a long way in guaranteeing the sustenance of the Union.

The UK economy is already feeling the negative impact of this referendum with economists projecting the effect of this exit vote for the UK to diminish the UK economy by about 7.5 percent in the next fifteen years. Britain’s chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne had even toyed with the idea of freezing trading on the stock market, as market watchers predicted what the VOX news called ‘Explosion of volatility’. The freedom previously enjoyed by UK based companies in the European market will also be drastically affected by this exit, as companies that presently enjoy unfettered access to all the markets in Europe will now have to begin extensive negotiations with other countries where they want to retain their operations. This will cause job losses, and other inconveniences to the UK market. Immigration, politics and even security will be in for serious reworks with the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU. David Cameron understood all this, but he also understands that theirs is a democracy, where the peoples’ wish must prevail.

This should teach our President that inasmuch as a lot of us believe that what Nigeria needs now is good leadership more than any renegotiation of our unity, democracy demands that the voice of the people be given vent, and the wish of the majority be allowed to prevail, no matter how stupid we may think those wishes  to be. The best way to shut up the many secessionist groups we have in the country at present, is by organizing a referendum, and when those who wish that Nigeria remains one carry the day, these separationists will no longer have the moral strength to continue in that line, and if they do, which is their right, the world would have known that they are pursuing an unpopular agenda. President Buhari was recently quoted as declaring that Nigeria’s unity is non-negotiable, and I must say that David Cameron’s action is the best way to tell our President that his stance is not democratic.

Democracy allows for freedom of choice, and David Cameron showed a good understanding of this fact by not insisting that his choice that the UK remains a part of the EU becomes a decision of the government he heads or even that of the Party he leads. He allowed functionaries within his government and those elected to various government positions under his Party’s platform to campaign on the opposing side of ‘LEAVE’, without victimizing any of them for holding a different opinion on such a sensitive political issue in the country. His message to Buhari here is that people should be allowed to hold whatever opinions they hold about politics, power and the economy of the nation. The idea of marking out those opposed to certain policies and styles of the administration for persecution is alien to democracy and I hope my President picks this up from Prime Minister David Cameron, who has been his host more than four times since he became President.

David Cameron appreciates that if democratic principles were stifled, a young man like him would not have had the opportunity of being the Number one political figure in a big country like the United Kingdom, hence, his idea of allowing for more political space for people to vent their opinions and express their wishes. President Buhari would not have had the opportunity of becoming Nigeria’s President ever again if the political space was not allowed to be as free as it was during the last elections. It would be tantamount to breaking the ladder through which he climbed to power, if he continues to as much energy as he is investing in persecuting the opposition or any individual seen to be expressing contrary opinions on governance and politics.

David Cameron like President Muhammadu Buhari is the most powerful politician in his country, with lots of political power, fettered only by democracy and Constitutionalism. He could have put the referendum on hold or decided to scuttle the outcome, but as a respecter of democracy and its norms, he chose to abide by the will of the majority, no matter how silly he might think their choice is. President Buhari should pick a lesson or two from this and call off his attack dogs on politically persecuted individuals like; President of the Nigerian Senate and other principal officers of the National Assembly, who are constantly harassed by security agents, for what majority of enlightened Nigerians understand to be their independent decision to seek for legitimate positions within the Nigerian political circus. Governor Ayo Fayose, for speaking out against some of the policies of the Federal government, Femi Fani Kayode and many others who are marked out for persecution for holding contrary but legitimate opinions on governance.

The UK, like Nigeria has laws that would have been sprung up against those who decided to think and work differently, but Prime Minister David Cameron is lawful and sane enough not to waste public resources on fighting personal wars. The same law that created the office of a Prime Minister is the same law that created the offices of other parliament members and government functionaries, David Cameron respected the Constitution as a sacred document, respected the wishes of the majority of the people because he understands that in a democracy, the people are the most powerful bloc, and he respects the opposition, because he understands and remembers that he was at a time in the opposition. Our President should learn from that young man, who can even be his son, not to think of himself as more superior than all laws and people.

The ultimate message which the young Prime Minister sent to our President is the announcement of his voluntary resignation as Prime Minister. Recall, that Cameron did not promise to step down should his ‘REMAIN’ campaign fail to sail through. He had instead vowed to remain in office notwithstanding what the outcome of the referendum is. However, the young Prime Minister announced his intention to quit his position as Prime Minister immediately it became obvious that majority of British voters had voted to leave the EU. We must take note that this is not in any way a failure on his part, nor is it an indication that he has failed to live up to the expectations of the people he leads, but because he feels not emotionally prepared to lead a non-EU Britain.

The Prime Minister sends a message across to our President with this resignation that it does not really matter who is wrong or who isn’t, once, you find yourself overwhelmed by the situation of things or you think that the path the majority of the people has chosen is different from the path you would want to lead them through, you quit, and be sure that your head is intact. When you have to be careful of the areas of the country you can visit because you feel that some of your policies are not well-received by a section of the country, then, you have lost a right to remain the leader of such country.

President Buhari does not need to be proven to have been in breach of any or part of the Constitution, as a gentleman and a man of integrity, the swell of opinion against his continued stay in power is enough to make him think twice. When a responsible and conscientious leader tries to lead the people in a particular path, but the majority or even a good number of the people show that they want something different, the best path, is the exit path. That is exactly what the British Prime Minister has done.



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