Human Rights Day 2012: All Nigerians Must Count – Chidi Anselm Odinkalu

Published:11 Dec, 2012

Human Rights Day 2012: All Nigerians Must Count – Chidi Anselm Odinkalu

“This Human Rights Day serves up a huge to-do menu for Nigeria, its people and our leaders. We have to find a common memory of shared values; a common narrative for a shared country.”Chidi Odinkalu

Nigeria confronts combined challenges in the protection of human rights and delivery of governance that easily present opportunities for transformative leadership. On International Human Rights Day on 10 December, all in positions of leadership in the country have an obligation to reflect on these challenges, re-imagine our approaches to them and reassure Nigerians that we care enough about their best interests to involve everyone fully in the search for durable solutions to these problems.

The United Nations General Assembly instituted International Human Rights Day in 1950 to commemorate the adoption in December 1948 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In commemoration of this day, the United Nations identifies annually a unifying theme around which activities are organized.

With a focus on inclusion and participation in 2012, International Human Rights Day honours and affirms the work of all persons around the world working to end discrimination in any shape or form. For us in Nigeria, this theme has remarkable resonance in big and small ways.

A country with over 380 ethnic, national and linguistic groups, as well as diversities of faith and sect, we seem collectively determined to manufacture a liability from the unique asset that is our diversity. Across the country, the one thing that unites Nigerians today is a shared persecution complex and a Catholic sense of marginalization on narrow identity terms.

Several decades of unaccountable rule have largely rendered public institutions irrelevant to ordinary citizens and our communities. With impunity writ large, we now inhabit a vigilante society in which those who cannot buy or rent security must find some means to protect themselves or risk paying with their lives for being unable to do so. To many people, it now seems that only those who carry guns or threaten to do so are heard, seen or listened to.

Narrow identity is becoming the only metric and mechanism of protection. Inter-communal, inter-ethnic and sectarian conflicts daily claim lots of Nigerian lives with brutal and gruesome regularity.

Once celebrated cities, such as Jos and Kaduna, have become by-words for identity-based blood-letting, with different identities garrisoned behind intangible yet impenetrable lines of bad memory. Integrated commercial cities like Kano and Maiduguri tank under interminable siege from combined forces of nihilism and its would-be exterminators.

Increasingly, the only minority of any significance is the Nigerian and the only place for the wannabe Nigerian is exile. We have become a country of polarities. Indigenes and settlers; northerners and southerners; easterners and westerners; few have and majority have-nots; militants and bombers; Christians and Muslims; male abusers and abused female spouses; rulers and subjects; oil-producers and oil (revenue) suckers; not to mention a motley crowd of ethnicities.

All these identities are framed in such a way as to exclude rather than unite; to diminish our collective humanity, rather than emphasise, claim or celebrate it.

In this context, it surely seems hopelessly foolish to seek to confront discrimination or to face it down. Many would say this is a fool’s errand for those who have to deal with the evil of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) or the desolation that follows in their wake. Two reasons suggest that we have no other choice.

First, the real story of Nigeria is almost certainly not the enormity of our challenges but the fact that the challenges are not much worse. Around the country daily, quiet heroes and heroines go uncelebrated in acts of exceptional humanism and bravery – a man in Kaduna facing down his sect to save a woman from near certain death from in the hands of apostles of hate giving the Almighty a bad name; neighbours in Lagos braving the unknown to save a woman from blood-letting in the hands of a poor specimen of a man and a bad excuse for a husband; Christians and Muslims in Kano taking turns to protect one another in their places of worship from agents of a God unknown to all persons of true faith; a family in Onitsha rescuing children from hateful abuse and setting them up for life with free education without asking for a refund; elderly women Ubima rallying around with their wrappers to protect the dignity, health and child of a poor would-be mother cramping with labour pains in the middle of the local market. A young, improbable survivor of mass bombing in Abuja deciding that she will help to heal others with her experience rather than wallow in enforced disability. These and similar examples of our shared values and common bonds are what the world asks us to remember, acknowledge and celebrate on International Human Rights Day in 2012.

Second, if we are unable to re-capture, celebrate or institutionalize these acts of shared investment in our common humanity, we will not be able to face down those who would blow us apart – pun intended – with IEDs or those who would wish to serve up collective reprisal for the cowardly acts of hateful nihilists or zealots on a mis-cue. Only by doing so can we forge  the common cause among communities, institutions, political leaders and friends and partners of Nigeria internationally that will be required to re-discover the sense that Nigeria’s future is not already behind us.

This International Human Rights Day, therefore, serves up a huge to-do menu for Nigeria, its people and our leaders. We have to find a common memory of shared values; a common narrative for a shared country. A Nigeria history project that celebrates the contributions of all of Nigeria’s diversities would help. In the ongoing process of constitutional amendment, we must address the issue and meaning of citizensh

ip in Nigeria and agree a national commitment to equal opportunities backed up by adequate institutional guarantees. We must find ways to end impunity for crimes big and small, including crimes of violence as well as grand corruption and plunder.

Above all, on the foothills of a new general election cycle in just over two years, we must agree that all votes must count and be counted equally, for this is the most effective way to guarantee inclusion, participation and non-discrimination. A country that cannot count votes, is almost always also unable to count its people or their money.

 

Chidi Odinkalu chairs the Council of the National Human Rights Commission

 

via PremiumTimes

Related Posts

Recent Posts

Man arrested for threatening to kill Trump at inauguration

A man in Florida has been accused of posting online that he would kill US President-elect Donald Trump at his inauguration on Friday.   “This is January 6, 2017. I was requested to type this in and post it,” Dominic Puopolo said in a video posted on Monday.   “Yes, I will be at the review stand, the inauguration and I’m going to kill President Trump, President-elect Trump today.”   Puopolo, 51, was arrested on Tuesday and allegedly admitted to making the threat.   He was ordered...

A misguided tour and the plight of Boko Haram victims – By Musa Hassan-Tom

As the battle against the book haram terrorists draws close to an end, the Muhammadu Buhari led Federal Government should not allow itself to be cornered into a situation of winning the battle and losing the war by pandering to vested interests. While the battle to defeat the insurgents has largely been successful, the task of attending to the needs of both internally displaced persons and refugees in neighbouring countries with a view to ameliorating their plight in the short...

Gambian state house website displays Adama Barrow as country’s new president

With gale of resignations hitting his cabinet in its last official days, President Yahya Jammeh’s endgame is probably near.   The latest indication of that is the display, as at press time, the picture of the man who brought Jammeh’s 22-year rule to an inglorious, Adama Barrow on the official website of Gambia’s State House. But it is unclear if the website was hacked.   Barrow is expected to be sworn in today. Where it will be done, is yet unclear as Jammeh...

Adama Barrow to be sworn in at Gambia’s embassy in Senegal

The in-coming president of the Gambia Adama Barrow is to be sworn in at Gambian embassy in Senegal today, his spokesman said on Thursday.   “It is going to take place at the Gambian embassy in Dakar, they have changed the venue, at 4:00 pm (1600 GMT),” spokesman Halifa Sallah said.   Barrow himself tweeted the information earlier the today.   https://twitter.com/adama_barrow/status/822000166454620160   Organisers had planned a large ceremony in a stadium in The Gambia but were forced to change plans due to...

Masterminds of Nigerian – Turkish school kidnap arrested – Police

Two suspected masterminds of the kidnapping of pupils and staff members of the Nigerian Turkish International Colleges have been arrested by the police Apart from the ringleaders, Philip Kakadu, aka General Kakadu, and Romeo Council, aka Raw, other suspects were also said to be undergoing screening in connection with the abduction. PUNCH Metro gathered that 29-year-old Kakadu and Council, 40, were apprehended in Warri, Delta State, by operatives of the Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team, led by ACP Abba Kyari. Some...

JUST IN: President Buhari to proceed on a 10-day vacation

President Muhammadu Buhari is set to proceed on a 10-day vacation beginning from Monday January 23 to Monday February 6, 2017.   Buhari disclosed this in a letter, read by Bukola Saraki, the senate President, Thursday, during plenary.   The letter read that the 10-day period formed part of his annual vacation for 2017.   According to the letter, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is to act as President during the period, which Buhari would be away.

A Case For The Young – By Tosin Ashafa

“Our answer is the world's hope; it is to rely on youth. The cruelties and obstacles of this swiftly changing planet will not yield to obsolete dogmas and outworn slogans. It cannot be moved by those who cling to a present which is already dying, who prefer the illusion of security to the excitement of danger. It demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality...

JAHDA Clothing Unveils ‘JAGABAN 2017 Collection Featuring Woli Arole

Popular celebrity stylist and designer OPUSUNJU DANIEL YINKA popularly known as JAHDA clothings releases pictures of his new designs tagged the JAGABAN STYLE which features popular comedian WOLE AROLE and himself. OPUSUNJU DANIEL again raised the bar of casual native dresses in the fashion industry with these exciting and amazing new collections. According to the designer, he claims to have wanted to bring in the fusion of both the AGBADA and...

Gambians to embark on civil disobedience against Yahya Jammeh

The West African Civil Society Forum, WACSOF, has expressed concern over the intention of outgoing leader of The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, to plunge the country into disarray over his refusal to step down from office having been defeated in the December 1, 2016 presidential election by the opposition candidate, Adama Barrow. In a statement delivered at a press conference at its secretariat in Abuja, WACSOF acting secretary general, Auwal Musa, called on the international community to make sure Mr. Jammeh...

UPDATE: Yahya Jammeh’s lawyer flees, asks him to step down.

Edu Gomez, the lawyer of outgoing leader of The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, has fled the country to neighbouring Senegal after penning the president a letter to step down from office in the interest of peace. Mr. Gomez who represented Mr. Jammeh and his party, the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction, APRC, in their failed attempt to have the country’s Supreme Court overturn the victory of the President-elect, Adama Barrow, and stop his inauguration as President. In his letter, Mr. Gomez...

Labour Party drags Governor Amosun to court over road projects

The Labour Party, LP, in Ogun State has dragged Governor Ibikunle Amosun to court for details of the contracts for all road projects awarded by his administration since 2011.   The party in the suit filed at the State High Court, Abeokuta, joined the state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure as respondents.   The suit was instituted on behalf of the party by its state chairman, Arabambi Abayomi; secretary, Oginni Olaposi; and two members, Olufunmilayo Oginni and Sabur Aroyewun.   The applicants are...

Gambia army chief says troops will not fight intervention

Gambia’s army chief said Wednesday he would not order his men to fight other African troops if they enter Gambian territory, speaking as Senegalese and other troops massed on his nation’s borders. The Senegalese troops backed by other African forces are on standby to move into The Gambia as President Yahya Jammeh approaches a midnight deadline to stand down or face military action after refusing to leave at the end of his term. “We are not going to involve ourselves militarily....

Butcher allegedly kills colleague over cow leg

A Tug of war between two butchers over who will buy a cow leg from a customer at a slaughterhouse at the popular Abraka Market in Asaba, has resulted in the death of one of the butcher. He was stabbed by his colleague in a fit of anger. The deceased butcher, Mr. Akin Sahid, 34, from Kwara State and a father of two met his untimely death yesterday when he went to buy cow meat at the abattoir in company...

Nigerian Navy seaman’s wife allegedly commits suicide by ingesting ‘Sniper’

The wife of a naval rating has allegedly committed suicide in Igando, a Lagos suburb. The woman, whose identity was said to be unknown at the time of filing this report, allegedly drank sniper, a local insecticide, on Sunday evening after a disagreement with her husband, Seaman Band Omojoye.   It was alleged that the couple had an argument after the man discovered that the woman lied to him. She was said to have left the house and told the husband...

EFCC arrests OSOPADEC boss, three others over alleged corruption

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday arrested the Chairman of the Ondo State Oil Producing Areas and Development Commission (OSOPADEC), Pastor Johnson Ogunyemi and three other principal officers. The officers included the Secretary, Dr. Dele Durojaye, the Director of Finance, Sola Orisamoluwa and the Director of Account, Vincent Ikuomola.The Guardian learnt that the officials of the anti-graft agency stormed the headquarters of the commission yesterday afternoon and locked the main gate before heading to the chairman’s office. The main...

World’s first 3-parent baby delivered in Ukraine

A baby boy has been born in Ukraine to an infertile couple after the first ever use of a new technique using the DNA of three parents, the head of a Kiev fertility clinic said Wednesday. The boy was conceived using DNA from his mother and father but also from an egg donor in a technique called pronuclear transfer, said Valeriy Zukin, director of the Nadiya private fertility clinic in Kiev. “It is the first delivery (using) pronuclear transfer all over...

Government gives traders two weeks for Ladipo Market demolition

Barely a week after the Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, paid an unscheduled visit to the Ladipo auto spare parts market in Mushin, the state government has given traders two weeks notice to quit some sections of the market already marked for demolition. The notice was announced to the leadership of the market under the umbrella of Ladipo Auto Central Executive Committee (LACEC) on Tuesday by the state government at the stakeholders meeting held to fine-tune arrangements for the proposed...

Federal High Court grants bail to Sambo Dasuki’s ally Edidiong Idiong

A Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, has granted bail to a businessman, Mr. Edidiong Idiong, in the criminal charges brought against him by the Federal Government. Idiong and two others were arraigned yesterday on an 11-count charge of alleged possession of funds meant to purchase arms by the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Sambo Dasuki. The court, presided over by Justice Gabriel Kolawole, dismissed the objection by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that it was unmeritorious to grant...

FG will NOT increase pump price of petrol, says NNPC

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has advised Nigerians not to engage in any panic buying of petroleum products. Ndu Ughamadu, spokesman of the corporation, issued a statement late Wednesday to dismiss the report of a likely increase in the price of the products. He said the corporation had a 1.3billion litres stock of premium motor spirit (PMS), otherwise called petrol, which is sufficient to serve the nation for more than 38 days. “This plea comes on the heels of reports that some motorists...

UPDATE: Senegal troops move in on Gambia

Senegalese troops have been seen moving towards the Gambian border in a show of force to pressure President Yahya Jammeh to stand down, according to BBC. Senegal gave Jammeh a midnight GMT deadline to quit and Nigeria has sent an air force contingent to Senegal in support of the possible intervention. Wednesday was meant to be Jammeh’s last day in office but parliament extended his tenure by three months. This stops the inauguration of President-elect Adama Barrow, who is currently...

POLL: Obama leaves office as 3rd most loved American president

Outgoing US President Barack Obama will leave office on Friday with his highest approval rating since 2009. A new CNN/ORC poll finds Obama’s approval rating stands at 60 per cent, his best mark since June of his first year in office and majority said they would miss him when “he is gone’’. Compared with other outgoing presidents, Obama lands near the top of the list, outranked only by Bill Clinton’s 66 per cent in January 2001 and Ronald Reagan’s 64 per...