At CHOGM, May Charges Member Nations to Revoke Same-sex Laws

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PDP accuses Buhari of lacking initiative to attract international assistance
Omololu Ogunmade in London and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

Prime Minister Theresa May, on Tuesday in London, the United Kingdom capital, challenged members of the Commonwealth of Nations which she said had made “outdated legislations” banning same-sex marriage to have a rethink.

May who gave the charge while addressing leaders at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), was apparently referring to Nigeria and other countries which had made laws prohibiting marriage to a person of the same sex. President Goodluck Jonathan signed the bill into law in 2014.

She insisted that no one should make any law persecuting or discriminating against another person on account of who the person chooses to love, pledging the support of Britain to any of such countries that is ready to revoke its anti-same sex law.
She said the world had moved from what it used to be in over 50 years ago, when people were dictated to, explaining that nowadays, young persons design their own lifestyles and run their life affairs as they deem fit.

Recalling that the last commonwealth meeting resolved to float an organisation promoting the interests of gays, lesbians, and transgenders, May said three of such countries which had made such laws recently revoked their laws and advised others to emulate them.
“Recent years have brought welcome progress. The three nations that have most recently decriminalised same-sex relationships are all Commonwealth members, and since the heads of government last met the Commonwealth has agreed to accredit its first organisation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

“Yet there remains much to do. Nobody should face persecution or discrimination because of who they are or who they love. And the UK stands ready to support any Commonwealth member wanting to reform outdated legislation that makes such discrimination possible.

“Because the world has changed. When, in 1953, the newly-crowned Queen Elizabeth set off on a tour of the Commonwealth, she travelled by air, sea and land on a journey that took more than five months. Today, many members of the Youth Forum have only ever known a time in which they can instantly converse with one another regardless of where in the world they live.
“Unlike previous generations, today’s young people don’t need an organisation like the Commonwealth to connect them. They can build their own bridges, forge their own links, mastermind and run their own campaigns.

“If the Commonwealth is to endure in such a world, we must demonstrate our relevance and purpose anew. We must show what the Commonwealth is capable of. And this summit can be the moment where that change begins to happen,” she said.
May also stated that her country was investing £44 million for the purpose of improving the abilities of member-nations to independently curb any menace of natural disasters in their countries.
Disclosing that 90 per cent of members are affected by the scourge of malaria, May also said the disease kills no fewer than 445,000 persons every year, pointing out that talks on legacies for children would remain a mirage if a disease which kills a child every two minutes is not decisively tackled.

Against this background, she said the United Kingdom remained committed to the promise it made two years ago that it would yearly spend £500 million to fight the scourge of malaria among member-nations in five years.
“We are only meeting in London this week because of the devastation wrought on Vanuatu by Cyclone Pam in 2015. The impact of other recent extreme weather events in the Caribbean and Pacific have underlined the vulnerability of smaller states across the Commonwealth.

“So I am proud to say that the UK, long a supporter of such nations, is investing a further £44 million to help improve members’ ability to prepare for and deal with natural disasters of all kinds. It is an issue Prime Minister Holness and I have already spoken about this morning.

“But extreme weather is not the only threat our people face from nature. Today, some 90 per cent of Commonwealth citizens live in countries where malaria is endemic. Worldwide, the disease kills 445,000 people every year, many in the Commonwealth and most of them children. Malaria has a serious impact on the economies of countries it affects. The human cost is incalculable.

“We cannot talk to the young people of the world, talk about securing a legacy for our children and grandchildren, without tackling a disease that, worldwide, kills one of them every two minutes. That is why, this week, I will be calling on my fellow leaders to commit to halving malaria across the Commonwealth by 2023.

“It is an ambitious goal, but one that is firmly within our reach. Since the Commonwealth Heads of Government last met, Sri Lanka has been declared malaria-free. Malaysia is on-course to eliminate the disease by 2020. And, since the year 2000, global malaria deaths have been cut by more than 60 per cent – the result of a concerted effort by governments, civil society groups, and individuals alike.

“Bill, you and Melinda deserve particular praise for all the work you have done in the fight against this terrible disease. Your philanthropy has saved countless lives, and your tireless campaigning has kept the issue firmly on the global agenda, including at tomorrow’s Malaria Summit.

“The UK remains committed to its five-year pledge, made in 2016, to spend half a billion pounds a year tackling malaria. Over the next two years £100 million of that will be match-funded by partners in the private sector. I know other Commonwealth nations are also among the biggest funders of this global effort,” May stated.

May also said her country was committing £200 million to fund education in member-countries.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) asked President Buhari to show leadership and stop de-marketing the country and blocking Nigeria’s chances of accessing international help in critical sectors.
The party said it was saddening that rather than engaging his international hosts on ways to pull the country’s economy from the biting recession, the president has been busy trying to convince his people on reelection bid.

“Only yesterday, our dear country was burdened with yet another integrity issue following claims by President Buhari before British Prime Minister, Theresa May, that he is not preoccupied with the 2019 general election, when the world is already aware that he has since kicked off his campaign.
“All over the world, well-meaning leaders relegate their personal interests, accept responsibility in the face of failure and use every opportunity to seek help and remedy a bad situation.

“Nigerians are therefore miffed that instead of presenting the true state of affairs in our country under his watch, particularly the comatose economy and worsened insecurity, President Buhari, obviously in a bid to give an impression of performance, chose to understate the challenges, thereby jeopardising the chances of securing much needed international support for the country.

“We are shocked that rather than engaging his international hosts on ways to pull our economy from the biting recession, Buhari opted for self-praise and brandishing unsubstantiated record of achievements, thus stalling possible beneficial bilateral discussions and engagements in that area.

“Is it not a disservice that President Buhari is sounding brass in London instead of seeking solution for the woes the poor policies of his administration have plunged our country into?” PDP querried.
The opposition party said in the last three years, under his watch, there have been little or no direct foreign investments; critical infrastructures have collapsed with multinational companies relocating to other countries.
It added that Nigeria is no longer among the first 10 investment destinations in Africa, leading to mass closure of businesses, massive job losses and biting poverty in the country.

PDP said: “Furthermore, is it not preposterous that President Buhari told the British Prime Minister that his administration is achieving food security when in truth, we are facing a major food crisis in Nigeria, with prices of staple food, particularly rice, now beyond the reach of the citizens?
“Additionally, we are sure that the British Prime Minister will be pleasantly amazed at President Buhari’s success claims on security as the international community is aware that security concerns have worsened under his watch, with daily bloodletting and marauding of communities turning our country into a large killing field.

“We are therefore surprised that our dear president failed to seize the moment to open serious bilateral talks on practical strategies to end the scourge and ensure the safety for Nigerians, especially given his recent declaration that the marauders were deserters from Libya.
“In spite of his belief to the contrary, it is obvious that President Buhari is completely preoccupied with his 2019 re-election ambition for which governance and the welfare of Nigerians have completely taken the back seat.

“Finally, we hope that the president would have the opportunity to address CHOGM and we implore him to use the august occasion to present the true state of affairs in our dear country and seek help so that Nigeria will access the necessary assistance from the international community.”