After 43 years membership of the European Union (EU), British voters on Thursday, June 23, 2016, opted to leave the Union, making many Nigerians to wonder when they be given the opportunity to decide whether to remain or exit the British contraption that has continued to wobble more than 100 years after amalgamation.
The outcome of the referendum saw 51.9 percent British voters endorsing the Leave campaign while 48.1 percent of the voters pitched tent with the Remain campaign.
Shortly after the result of the BREXIT referendum, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that he will be quitting office in October, saying he finds it inappropriate to be the captain of a team presiding over the UK going forward. The action, Cameron added, is also to pave way for a new leadership to drive the UK in the new direction it has chosen.
Hear him: “I fought this campaign in the only way I know how, which is to say directly and passionately what I think and feel – head, heart and soul.
“I held nothing back, I was absolutely clear about my belief that Britain is stronger, safer and better off inside the European Union and I made clear the referendum was about this and this alone – not the future of any single politician including myself.
“But the British people have made a very clear decision to take a different path and as such I think the country requires fresh leadership to take it in this direction.
“I will do everything I can as Prime Minister to steady the ship over the coming weeks and months but I do not think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination.
“This is not a decision I’ve taken lightly but I do believe it’s in the national interest to have a period of stability and then the new leadership required”.
Clearly, there are lessons that Nigeria should learn from the BREXIT referendum and Cameron’s decision to quit his position.
First is that as a country, Nigeria while being a member of any international or regional body should always go for what is in her national interest which of course is the aggregation of the interest(s) of her people(s). In the case of the UK, Britons had long been agitated over membership of the EU as well as policies like immigration among others which they perceived were not in their interest. That agitation led Prime Minister David Cameron to call for a vote on EU membership which on June 23 turned out in favour of Leave campaign.
Secondly, BREXIT referendum teaches that Nigeria should not allow membership of any international or regional organisation be detrimental to her citizens. Nigeria must make every effort to look out for and protect the interest(s) of her peoples at all times. For a country to abandon the interest(s) of her people for others, it may in the long run turn an albatross. Britons perceived (rightly or wrongly) that membership of the EU was increasingly hurting their interest(s) and they made this known in the BREXIT vote.
An important lesson that BREXIT teaches is that countries, Nigeria inclusive, should never foreclose renegotiating their union. The UK offered her citizens the opportunity to decide whether to leave or remain in the EU. Britons seized the opportunity and their views known. In the same vein, Nigeria must give her citizens the opportunity to decide if they will continue to live together as one country and on what terms. Attempts to shut down persons who insist on this is not only undemocratic but could hurt the country in the long run. This is reason every person who means well for Nigeria should support the call for restructuring of the country. When the various peoples who make up Nigeria are given the opportunity to affirm their loyalty to the country, they will be in a position give their best, including laying down their lives for Nigeria.
Another lesson BREXIT teaches is that politicians must learn to respect the wishes of their people even where such goes jeopardises their positions. David Cameron campaigned for Britons to remain in EU but they voted to leave. He respected their wishes, thanked them for their decision and decided to quit his Prime Minister position. This is an example that politicians in Nigeria should emulate.