By Chinelo Chikelu, Abuja.
The High Commission of India in Nigeria marked the International Day of Non-violence with the commemoration of the 150th Posthumous Birthday of its nationalist and founding father, Mahatma Gandhi.
The high commission further donated several solar lamps to the Non-governmental Organization NGO, Ajike People Support Center, Kwara State. The NGO will present the over 150 lamps to needy Nigerian students in the state.
Speaking at the event, the Chief Operating Officer (CEO) of Air Peace, Nigeria, Allen Onyema, the first Nigerian airline set to establish direct airlinks between Nigeria and India before the pandemic, said the world learnt the art of non-violence for social change from Mahatma Gandhi.
He said several world political nationalists and activists, such as Andrzej Butkiewicz of Poland, and Martin Luther King Jr. took their cue from Gandhi’s use of non-violence to achieve social change. Butkiewicz to overcome communism in Poland, and Luther King Jr. to overcome official segregation in America.
Narrating his personal encounter with Gandhi which strengthened him in his early days of activism in the Niger Delta, Onyema said, “I am most thankful to have had the privilege of learning from the life and philosophy of Gandhi. In 2005, his teachings equipped me greatly as I could relate with the situations he has pulled through using his non-violence method to find answers to several questions I had encountered during those days in the Niger Delta.
“The world needs more people like Gandhi, a man whose lives impacted every sphere of human endeavours. Gandhi’s word, “Nothing enduring is built on violence,” Indicates his understanding of the bankruptcy of violence and stood against it,” he said.
Extolling Gandhi’s humility, spirituality, and empathic philosophies of Satyagraha (holding on to the truth), Sannyasa (renunciation of worldly possessions) and Ahimsa (renunciation of violence), Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffery Onyeama said he had set the standard for those who are fighting for justice around the world.
Onyema who spoke via a live virtual speech, said “Posterity will remember his non-violent resistance, his nationalist struggles against the social ills of his time, and of course for mainstreaming civil rights for all of his compatriots. He showed himself most worthy of emulation that the UN in 2007 designated October 2, as the international day of non-violence in honour of Mahatma Gandhi.”
He further unveiled the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) designed stamp created with the support of India High Commission at the event, which also marked the end of the long-running Gandhi Exhibition at the high commission.
Commending India’s solar lamp donation, the first lady of Kaduna, Olufolake Abdulrazaq, founder of the Ajike People Support Center, said they will strengthen the ability of the center to serve humanity. “The kits will be distributed to the needy students across the breath and length of Kwara State,” said Abdulrazaq.
With the motto, “we rise by lifting others” the center is dedicated to serving humanity and the people of Kwara via life and skills trainings, provision of medical/health services and a strong advocacy against Gender Based Violence (GBV) and all forms of inhuman treatment against the vulnerable, women and children.