The recent General Election in the United Kingdom where a black Nigerian won and is on a possible track to becoming Great Britain’s premier in the near future has raised questions about Nigeria’s citizenship or indigeneship laws.
Thirty six-year old ChukaUmunna, son of a Nigerian immigrant was born in the UK and has lived there ever since, thus qualifying him under the British citizenship laws to vote and be voted for even in a highly discriminatory society as the United Kingdom.
Already, he is the Shadow business secretary and is currently the bookmakers’ top choice to replace Ed Miliband as Labour leader following last week’s polls.
This development is raising questions about Nigeria’s citizenship laws and the lessons that must be learnt from the colonial masters.
It is however sad to note that, after several years of someone residing within the same geographical area, under the same constitution and leadership, Nigerians still find it difficult to accept the reality of being one as a country.
Though, the Nigeria constitution makes provision for her citizens to live and secure means of livelihood, own property and enjoy other opportunities without discrimination in any part of the country, it not so in practice as clearly exemplified by Britain.
However, it does appears the desire to eliminate non-indigenes from certain privileges within a given geographical area is typical and commonplace in virtually every part of the country.
This is manifest in the refusal to recognise non-indigenes even those who were born in the area at various levels; states, local governments, districts, clans, and sometimes even kinship groups.
They are discriminated against in different aspects ranging from job opportunities, admission opportunities, access to arable land and other economic opportunities.
No matter how many years one has spent in an area even if a non-indigene that was born in an area where his parents had been living for decades, whenever the issue of election or job opening crops up, he would be asked to go back home. The question for him is where is home?
It was only recently that what happened in England was experienced in Lagos during the last General election when four people from the south eastern part of the country emerged victorious in the elections beating the natives.
This was possible because it happened in areas where the Igbos had larger populations and the other political party fielded natives.
Some people who were not comfortable with this development argued that it could never happen in Igboland for a non-native to win election.
The UK election should be an eye opener for the nation and politicians should learn a good lesson once again from Britain.
In the ongoing battle for the Labour Party leadership, Umunna is bookmakers choice head of others like Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper
But Shadow international development secretary Mary Creagh has joined the race to be Labour leader, becoming the fifth candidate to declare candidacy.
MsCreagh joins Liz Kendall, ChukaUmunna, Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper in the battle to replace Ed Miliband in the wake of last week’s devastating General Election defeat.
Nominations for leader close on June 15 and for deputy on June 17 and members and supporters who sign up by August 12 will be entitled to vote.
The result will be announced on September 12.
Mr Burnham, the Shadow Health Secretary, is the early favourite to take over.
He announced his bid with a video message to set out his stall for the top job.
In a swipe at the left and the right of the party, he said Labour could not just speak to one group of voters.
On Monday MrUmunna said the party must help David Cameron win the best possible deal ahead of a referendum on Europe.
He confirmed in a Facebook video he was joining the contest then warned Labour must act “in the national interest”.
Yvette Cooper also feature in the top three after Miliband said he would stand down in the face of a “very disappointing and difficult” election night.
Another favourite, former paratrooper Dan Jarvis, ruled himself out of the contest over the weekend for family reasons, leaving Liz Kendall and Tristram Hunt in fourth and fifth place. Miliband’s brother David comes in seventh place, while Harriet Harman who has been left in charge of the party comes in fifteenth.
The 36-year-old former solicitor has officially threw his hat into the ring, declaring his intention to run for leader of the opposition in a Facebook video filmed on Swindon high-street. He rejected the notion that Labour would take more than a decade to get back on its feet following their election loss, promising that as leader he would put the party back in power within five years. “I want to lead that effort as part of a really big Labour team getting Labour back into office, and building a fairer and more equal society. That is why we joined the Labour party in the first place,” he said.
The son of a Nigerian immigrant, Umunna retained his Streatham seat for a second term with 53 per cent of the vote last week. Described by the New Statesman as a “slick performer”, he is said to be popular among the public and his colleagues. He recently admitted that the party was wrong to run a deficit before the financial crisis and condemned Miliband’s attacks on “wealth creators”.
New Labour architect Lord Mandelson fell short of endorsing him, saying: “He’s got a bit of a way to go but will get there.” But some within the party fear that he will be less popular with the unions and is considered “too metropolitan” to appeal to voters in the North of the country,” says Sky News.
In second place as potential leader is Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary who won similarly high support last week in his constituency of Leigh in Greater Manchester. He started out as an adviser to Tony Blair and later became health secretary under Gordon Brown, but has edged left and won support as shadow health secretary for warning against the privatisation of the NHS. In the 2010 Labour leadership election, he came fourth out of five candidates with less than nine per cent of the vote.
The MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford is touted as the bookies’ third favourite. First elected in 1997, Cooper has served as work and pensions secretary and chief secretary to the Treasury under Gordon Brown. Most recently, she took on the role as shadow home secretary. The Daily Mirror‘s Fleet Street Fox thinks Cooper is “everything Miliband wasn’t” – particularly as she comes across as a human rather than a robot, a “rare” quality in a politician, she says. Cooper is yet to officially announce her candidacy but, according to the New Statesman, Yvetteforleader.com has been registered in the name of her aide.
The first to officially throw her hat into the ring, Kendall is said to be part of the Blairite right but also a “relatively unknown quantity”. She was a special adviser in the last Labour government to both Harriet Harman and Patricia Hewitt and became shadow health minister after winning the Leicester West seat in 2010. Kendall, whose partner is comedian and Inbetweeners head-teacher Greg Davies, says that Labour has “far too little” to say to middle-class voters. She told The Sunday Times that “fundamental reform is essential to the future survival of our party”.
The historian and journalist has been an MP for Stoke-on-Trent since 2010 and shadow education secretary since 2013. He has urged the party not to rush the leadership election, calling for a “brutal post-mortem” of Labour’s “underlying philosophy and thinking”. He addedthat Labour needs to show it is “also on the side of families who want to shop at John Lewis, go on holiday and get a new extension”.
Further down the board, some bookies are taking odds on former prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown making a comeback.
PaddyPower is even offering 275/1 odds on Nigel Farage, who stepped down as Ukip leader last week. The bookmaker is also taking bets on Farage competing on Strictly Come Dancing, releasing a duet with Ed Balls, becoming a Top Gear presenter and moving to Europe – all of which seem more likely than him becoming Labour leader, especially after he announced that he wants to “take the summer off” and enjoy himself.
There is also a vacancy for shadow chancellor after Ed Balls lost out on his Morley and Outwood seat by just 422 votes. Umanna and Burnham are also among the bookmakers’ favourites to replace him.
His wife, Cooper, who was chief secretary to the Treasury in 2008/9, is second favourite to take the position – having also replaced her husband as shadow home secretary in 2011.