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Global Rights@40: Stakeholders Advocate Opening the Civic Space

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An international human rights and governance Organisation, Global Rights, yesterday commemorated its 40 years of existence as an organization.

Giving a brief of the Organisation, at a Colloquium to mark its 40th Anniversary in Abuja, Executive Director, Global Rights Country Office, Ms Abiodun Baiyewu-Teru said the organization was founded in Washington DC in 1998 with the name International Human Rights Law Group and later changed its name to Global Right Partners for Justice in 2003 on the occasion of its 25th anniversary.

“In 2014, the organization shut its Washington headquarters and devolved the center of its operation to its country office in Nigeria, from where the organization has continued to work with local activists in Africa to promote and protect the rights of marginalized 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”.

“Ensuring that citizens have a voice and their voices are amplified and that people are able to speak for themselves and stand to be citizens in their own country”

She stated that “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”

The activist said “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”

On successes recorded by the Organisation in Nigeria, she said “In forty years, Global rights has turned around legislation in countries like the Maghreb region in Morocco, instituting human rights, instituted legal airs in countries like Afghanistan. In Nigeria, we are 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.

In his presentation, titled the ‘Urgency of Now’, Chairman of the Global Rights Board,  Dr Chidi Odinkalu centered his message on the five Cs which he said included Country, Community, Company, Consumer, and Citizens”

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”

Speaking 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”.

The only memory we have is the shared memory of impunity, the gross abuse of all of our population and it is from A-Z.

“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.

 

 



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