By Ken Azahan
A civil society organisation, Global Rights has predicted that the 2019 general election will fall short of expectation of Nigerians and the international community considering the manner in which the recent elections in Ekiti and Osun states were held as well as the primary elections of the leading political parties.
Chairman of the Global Rights Board, Dr Chidi Odinkalu made the prediction while making his presentation, titled the ‘Urgency of Now’, at a Colloquium to mark its 40th Anniversary of the organisation in Abuja
Dr Odinkalu who centred his message on the five Cs which he said included Country, Community, Company, Consumer, and Citizens” expressed worry that the only memory shared in the country at the moment is impunity, the gross abuse of all of our population and it is from A-Z.
Stressing on the 2019 elections, he said it will be terrible on the basis of the evidence at the moment, unless we change. “On the basis of Ekiti and Osun and the primaries that we have seen or the figures that have been produced from the primaries, the elections don’t offer a lot of hope and that is my honest view. Do we have the opportunity to change it, yes we do, but we don’t have a massive window”.
He stressed that in reclaiming Nigeria’s shrinking civic space, Nigerians must realise that they are first of all Nigerians before they are tribes. “When we complain about our civic space and how it is constraining us, we are the enablers of the constraining of our civic space”
“When I see people say they are Hausa’s, Igbos or Yoruba I am pained because we don’t seem to realise that there are only two people in Nigeria, the oppressors and the oppressed. The Oppressed are in the majority while the oppressors are a miniscule fraction of the population, but rather we like to divide ourselves and that is why we are where we are” he said.
Speaking earlier, Executive Director, Global Rights Country Office, Ms Abiodun Baiyewu-Teru said the organisation was founded in Washington DC in 1998 with the name International Human Rights Law Group and later changed to Global Right Partners for Justice in 2003 on the occasion of its 25th anniversary.
“In 2014, the organisation shut its Washington headquarters and devolved the center of its operation to its country office in Nigeria, from where the organisation has continued to work with local activists in Africa to promote and protect the rights of marginalised populations”
According to Ms Baiyewu-Teru “the organisation has stood for the equality and dignity of all human beings. We have worked in the most oppressive countries around the world, including Nigeria, working on issues of ensuring access to justice to remedy the dignity of a human person and ensuring the effective governance of our natural resources and human rights”.
“In Nigeria, we have done a lot, we have worked around countries ensuring that citizens are inbuilt with the capacity to engage in participatory governance and to build the Nigeria of their own dreams.
“Citizens own their country, so we must claim that space otherwise we will keep talking about the cabal while portraying ourselves as weak, feeble citizens which we are not”, she stressed.
On successes recorded by the Organisation in Nigeria, she said the organisation has been able to call attention to the lead poisoning in Zamfara and ensure that those communities get remediated.
“We have also worked on issues of energy and human rights to Bauchi, Kano and Nigeria as a whole and helped built the capacity of more than 500 paralegals to offer legal first aid and a whole myriad of issues”, Ms Baiyewu-Teru added.