By Jaiyeola J. Lewu
Nigeria was once the champion of the Black race and was revered everywhere in the world for that. The primary Prime Minister of Nigeria, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa instituted the defence of the dignity of the Black particular person anyplace on the planet as a cardinal precept of Nigeria’s overseas coverage.
Ambassador Ignatius C. Olisemeka (CON), former Everlasting Secretary and Minister of International Affairs, on October 20, 2019 lecture titled “Nigerian International Coverage”, acknowledged that Balewa’s cardinal precept was embellished on June 29, 1976 by the then Head of State, Normal Olusegun Obasanjo, who, whereas redefining the everlasting pursuits of Nigeria, included “the promotion and defence of social justice and respect for human dignity, particularly the dignity of the black man’.
This precept had all the time been the manifest future of Nigeria since independence, till the George Floyd’s homicide when Nigeria displayed an inexplicable silence, completely out of character.
Because the 1960’s, Nigeria has all the time been generally known as one of many best, if not the best advocate for the wrestle in opposition to racism and apartheid.
Nigeria galvanized its folks to contribute assets and to pay the final word worth in making certain the liberation of Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Angola and Namibia from colonialism, the elimination of apartheid in South Africa and the march in direction of racial equality and social justice in Southern Africa.
The dedication and dedication of Nigeria to this trigger earned the nation the popularity as one of many Frontline States combating to place an finish to apartheid and racism in that sub-region of Africa.
Nigeria’s response, or extra appropriately, non-reaction to the homicide of George Floyd, is mindboggling. It’s completely the anti-thesis of the nation’s cardinal precept of defending humanity, significantly the black race anyplace on the planet.
Other than some brave Nigerians who defied the heavy rain and got here out to exhibit in Lagos, and a protest one in entrance of the USA Embassy in Abuja a number of days after the burial of George Floyd, there was an obvious conspiracy of silence among the many Nigeria’s hitherto vociferous civil society organizations.
The place have been they?
One could want to ask the place are the Civil Society Organizations of the nation? The place are the hitherto vibrant commerce unions and Nationwide Affiliation of Nigerian College students? What about non secular organizations, the ever-ready indefatigable market ladies, the successors and disciples of Gani Fawehinmi legislation comrades and plenty of others who by no means countenanced man’s inhumanity to man?
Why has everybody change into so weak and docile? Have we been blinded by Covid-19 lockdown which has inhibited us from popping out nationwide to specific outrage?
In any case, many nations ravaged by Covid-19 – the USA, Spain, UK, Germany and elsewhere in Europe, in Asia (South Korea and Indonesia come to thoughts), African nations together with Ghana and South Africa respectively, defied lockdowns, got here out to protest in opposition to and denounce the grotesque homicide of George Floyd and racist police worldwide.
Some may argue that you just can not anticipate jobless, hungry and dispossessed folks to return out to protest on empty stomachs.
Others may argue that since further judicial killings additionally happen in right here, Nigeria has no ethical excessive floor to face on in condemning the cold-blooded homicide of George Floyd by the Minnesota police.
There is no such thing as a ethical equivalency right here.
At the same time as we cry, we will nonetheless see. Little doubt, each Nigerian, besides criminals and murderers, passionately believes in human rights and abhors the obnoxious remedy of fellow people.
The truth that extrajudicial killings nonetheless persist in Nigeria shouldn’t cease the folks, each formally and unofficially, from brazenly condemning such heinous acts each within the nation and wherever they happen.
Nigeria, in spite of everything, will not be an exception to the incidence of extrajudicial killings, as they happen in virtually all nations of the world the place the unhealthy and the ugly exist.
Each nation has its personal skeletons within the closet. So, Nigeria, like different nations, shouldn’t be timid to face with the remainder of the world to sentence within the strongest phrases the vicious police homicide of George Floyd.
Nigeria can be a signatory to the ‘Common Declaration of Human Rights which emphasizes in its preamble the popularity of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human household as the inspiration of freedom, justice and peace on the planet.
Article 1 of the Declaration states as follows: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They’re endowed with cause and conscience and may act in direction of each other in a spirit of brotherhood”.
Article three states; “Everybody has the correct to life, liberty and the safety of particular person” whereas Article 5 states “Nobody shall be subjected to torture or to merciless, inhuman and degrading remedy or punishment”.
Nigeria can be signatory to and is sure by the African Unity (AU) Constitution of Human and Peoples’ Rights generally known as ‘the Banjul Constitution’.
Above all, the Elementary Human Rights entrenched within the Nigerian 1999 Structure, as amended, binds the nation to its full implementation with none equivocation.
The nation has all the time fought vigorously in opposition to racism in favour of social equality and justice and shouldn’t distract from its manifest future of defending the dignity of the black particular person.
Even when covid-19 lockdown prevents open demonstrations, it doesn’t forestall official and unofficial statements of condemnation from authorities and varied civil society teams which the media might disseminate to the world.
Nigeria shouldn’t have been “lacking in battle” when the entire world was expressing their revulsion and utter repugnance over the horror.
What was Nigeria anticipating to realize from this shameful silence, this abdication of our manifest future? President Trump who neither has respect for President Buhari whom he described with unspeakable language, nor for Africans whom he denigrated as refugees from “shit gap”, nor for Nigerians whom he stated wouldn’t wish to return to their mud huts as soon as they stepped into the USA.
What are we afraid of? Lack of American help for our coverage goals? The place is our delight and honour as residence of the most important aggregation of Black folks on the planet?
The least that may be stated of Nigeria’s official silence on this matter is that it was not effectively thought out by the Nigerian authorities involved.
The Ministry of International Affairs must resuscitate its assume thank known as “Disaster Administration Committee” that used to rise as much as the challenges and help the overseas minister to proffer constant, shrewd, swift and efficient responses to coverage points after rigorously subjecting them to the prism of nationwide curiosity.
As well as, it could be most useful to the nation if the wealth of expertise and the mental prowess of members of the Affiliation of Retired Profession Ambassadors of Nigeria (ARCAN) needs to be harnessed to help the federal authorities in an advisory capability within the formulation and making of overseas coverage,
- Dr Lewu served as Nigeria’s Ambassador to Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia. He submitted this piece earlier than ARCAN’s current worldwide webinar.