The Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) South East Zone joins the rest of the world and human rights community to mark this year’s Human Rights Day.
For the records, Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December. It commemorates the day on which, in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1950, the Assembly passed resolution 423 (V), inviting all States and interested organizations to observe 10 December of each year as Human Rights Day.
The theme for this year’s celebrations is tagged “Stand up for someone's rights today”. This year, Human Rights Day calls on everyone to stand up for someone's rights! Disrespect for basic human rights continues to be wide-spread in all parts of the globe. Extremist movements subject people to horrific violence. Messages of intolerance and hatred prey on our fears. Humane values are under attack.
The United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon while talking on the theme said:"Upholding human rights is in the interest of all. Respect for human rights advances well-being for every individual, stability for every society, and harmony for our interconnected world .We must reaffirm our common humanity. Wherever we are, we can make a real difference. In the street, in school, at work, in public transport; in the voting booth, on social media.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein in his own comment said:
"It’s time for each of us to step up for human rights. There is no action that is too small, wherever you are, you can make a difference. Together, let’s take a stand for more”
For us in Nigeria and the South East in particular, the day calls for serious concerted efforts to reawaken the zeal and spirit of activism and conscientious objections on the need to hold governments accountable. For those in government to realize that they are not doing the masses any favour by doing those things they were elected to do in the first instance.
Nigeria under President Buhari is experiencing the worst economic situation otherwise called recession in the annals of the country’s history. Things have gone from bad to worse but Mr. President and his people in government are still insulated from the harsh realities of the situation.
There is no economic direction or blueprint while the country is going down in every indices of development. Unfortunately, while this administration is most loathed, the power brokers and party machinery are not even interested in making amends, rather it has been a situation of ‘we must rule you by force’ going by the kind of ‘war’ often unleashed on the electorates at any of the staggered elections held so far in Edo, Ondo and rerun slated for Rivers today.
The kind of killings perpetrated so far under this administration is mind boggling while the disrespect to the rule of law and court orders has reached its apogee. The continued incarceration of Citizen Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB members is a sore numb that will not only mar whatever goodwill the Buhari administration might garner but will end up leading to somebody’s albatross someday.
The South East remains the most marginalized geopolitical zone in the country. The recent release of the Police recruitment exercise, the allocation of capital projects for the zone in the 2016 fiscal year among others are all indicative provocative statement that the zone is a conquered territory and will remain so for a long time in the future.
The governors of the five South East States are also not helping matters. Their non-unification in speaking with one voice towards achieving regional development and breaking the chains of oppression from the central government is quite pathetic and unfortunate.
Some of the governors are also trying to make impact in governance while some among them still give us a scenario of “the more you look, the less you see ‘ and the ‘abracadra’ of governance by media hype, lies and half-truths.
Rochas Okorocha of Imo has been sending cold shivers down the spine of Ndigbo based on his governance style of ‘build and destroy to begin again’. Okezie Ikpeazu and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Abia and Enugu States can be said to be finding their levels after 19 months in the saddle.
Chief Willie Obiano of Anambra State represents the pack of those who are rated the best from outside based on his packaging but on the inside it’s a mere ridiculous dance in the name of governance if not for the hype of those who are benefitting directly or indirectly from his government.
Of serious issues in the administration of Obiano is the return of the state to borrowing status, non tolerant of criticism or divergent opinions, returning the state to the crippling of local government system, haphazard attention to issues of environment, proliferation of arms and gun culture, excesses of Ocha Brigade, menace of revenue touts, litany of abandoned road projects among others.
The police in South East most especially in Anambra have continued in their tradition of cash and carry, astronomical bail fees, multiple toll collection check points and recruitment of jobless youths in blocking Okada riders for arrest for a fee among others.
Case of torture still abound from various detention centres of the military, police, paramilitary, vigilante and all other quasi enforcement groups.
The Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) has been distributing darkness instead of providing light. The deliberate hoarding of prepaid metres and continued resort to estimated billings makes the company the most exploitative firm in the public service realm.
There is a long way to go for the redemption of our country, our region and our states. There are also specific roles expected from all of us at every sector and strata if we are to make a positive difference.
It is not enough to bemoan our collective fate while docility pervades the entire space. It is a call for us to stand up for what we believe in and work to make a difference.
Mahatma Gandhi aptly admonished us to “Be the Change we wish to see in the World”
Meanwhile, watch out for our comprehensive report/ document on the state of Human Rights and Governance as part of the CLO Annual Report and Human Rights Day presentation.
Comrade Aloysius Attah
Chair, Civil Liberties Organisation(CLO)
South East zone