Nigeria and the International Human Right Day Celebration: Can We get it Right? – Abdulmuhsin A. Wakawa

Abdulmuhsin A. Wakawa

‘For the purpose of promoting the good government and welfare of all persons in our country on the principles of FREEDOM, EQUALITY and JUSTICE and for the purpose of consolidating the UNITY of our people’.

‘Whereas recognition of the inherent DIGNITY and of the EQUAL and INALIENABLE RIGHTS of all members of the HUMAN FAMILY is the foundation of FREEDOM, JUSTICE and PEACE in the world’.

The above excerpts is from the preamble of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of 10th December, 1948 (69years ago), both form the foundational basis for Human Rights within Nigeria and the world in general. But the question that always comes to mind remains ‘ARE WE GETTING IT RIGHT?’, ‘ARE WE TRYING TO GET IT RIGHT?’, CAN WE EVEN GET IT RIGHT?’

Today (10th December) being marked and celebrated as the World International Human Right Day, it is imperative for every country state to look into its principles and activities on Human Rights and also give consideration to the level of Human Right abuses that has been successfully addressed over the years.

Human Right addresses issues of Freedom, Equality, Justice, Unity, Dignity and ultimately Peace. Unfortunately, in the Nigeria of today, it will not be in error saying that nothing has/is been done towards seeing to the actualization of the above objectives of Human Rights and the clog is not far from WE! Yes, you heard me right, WE! Because all government agencies charged with the mission and vision of promoting Human Right and curbing abuses are managed and controlled by US.

Notable is the recent social media outburst by Nigerians to seek redress and curb Human Right abuses and call for the total abolishment of SARS which was tagged ‘#EndSARS’. There were a lot of accusations and counter accusations, but ultimately, the Leadership of the Nigerian Police Force and the Federal Legislative Arm are looking deeply into the issue. (this topic is not for today)

A poet said in the 23rd Nigerian Economic Summit held in Lagos “stop judging accents, surnames and dressings”, he is not far from the truth, as today, we are defined by and related to using our dressings, accents and surname by the same people charged with the duty of promoting Human Right and protecting Human Right abuses. They have decided to sweep under the carpet the fact that, “what goes around, comes back around!”.

Nigerian agencies like the Armed Forces, Para-militaries, Non-Governmental Organisations, Human Rights Commissions e.t.c. pay lip services to the promotion of Human Rights, in fact, we cannot be wrong to say that they are the champions of Human Right abuses within the country and I wonder what is left for US. The trend #EndSARS, mentioned above has to do with the Special Anti-Robbery Squad which is a section of the Nigerian Police Force specially trained and charged with addressing robbery incidents, but it seems, from the allegations, they have derailed from their core mandate.

We must start demanding treatment and relation with agencies based on the fact that no one can change our status from being human because “…no race, tribe, system, culture or religion that is older than being human”. But demanding this requires the system ready to support the demand, because we must grow to agree that no one person is stronger than the system and once it is effective, there will be light at the end of the tunnel.

There was never an attempt at the initial part of this write up to define Human Right because we are fed up with the theories but at this point a definition by the United Nation will not be out of place. It provides thus “…Human Rights are rights inherent to all human beings regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion or any other status. Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education and many more. Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination.

One striking word contained in the definition that captured my attention is ‘INHERENT’.

Inherent means, something that is basically part of the very nature of something. So we can say our breathing ability, our hearing ability, our seeing ability e.t.c. are all basic features inherent in our creation as human beings but Human Rights are not as obvious as the above mentioned examples, maybe because they are higher inherent nature in human beings!

Same poet mentioned above said “I don’t get the logic of thinking it is different to be tribalistic and then be racist, if you are happy to judge him just by hearing his name! Whatever you call it my friend, it is the same!”

The problems are enormous ranging from our jobless youths, to unethical government official, to our always mendacious politicians, the list go on and on. All these fuel Human Right abuse, and everyone can identify them, but now, the issue goes beyond identification, because we need to start solving and fighting for Human Right.

To join the world in this celebration in my little way, I want to pause and encourage us all to know that “if we cannot see ourselves in each other, this journey ends here, we are certainly going no further!” according to peot Chukwumerije Dike.

I will end this short piece with a quote from the United States Declaration of Independence, 1776, which says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. Until we realise and accept that HUMAN RIGHTS are inherent, unalienable and no one should be robbed of them, WE CANNOT GET IT RIGHT!

Happy International Human Rights Day.

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