I had absolutely no idea what to write on the topic of human rights, absolutely nothing. When Walter called me to find out if I could draft out something to mark World Human Rights day, I asked: why me? It’s not like I’m a lawyer or human rights activist. Heck, I can’t even remember all the rights I so graciously quoted here last year. So, I got thinking. What are those rights again? There should be more than twenty of them, but for the life of me, I couldn’t remember them all, maybe five or six but definitely not all. One right still stood out though:
THE RIGHT TO LIFE!
That’s really the one right I still remember; maybe it’s because as a Nigerian, we all just really, really want to survive however way we can, whichever way we can, or maybe I just never really paid much attention in Social Studies class. Whatever the case, that one basic right stuck. For a refresher course, check the previous post of last year to refresh your memory and arm yourself on your basic human rights, entitled to you as a human being.
Yes, I’m no lawyer or activist, but shouldn’t we all be? The Human Right activist part, not the lawyer. As regular Nigerians, shouldn’t we be the ones constantly calling for human rights for all? The politicians won’t do it for us, the Pastor won’t do the same and neither would the Imam. Look at the world we live in now, the endless violence, reports of war and rumours of war, the refugee crises the world over, and the all-round unbearable suffering. These things happen as a result of one person or group of persons believing they are better than others and this leads to the chaos we see.
Here in Nigeria, it’s a whole different kettle of fish, almost impossible to uphold if you ask some people. We can at least begin to try on individual levels, so here is how I suggest we start:
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS. It’s almost that simple for when you know what your rights are. When the policeman wants to harass you just for taking a stroll around your neighbourhood, you can intimidate him by acting as the learned one.
DEMAND FOR YOUR RIGHTS. Now this is tricky because we as Nigerians always ask what the point is, we always believe we’ll never get justice, so we cower and accept our part as the oppressed party. This should not be so. Speak out, scream out, type it, tweet it, just keep demanding. When you hold Government accountable to their duties, you demand your right.
UNDERSTAND THE NEXT PERSON HAS RIGHTS. As Nigerians, this is another hard thing to do. It’s why one pastor believes he is better than the next pastor, or Boko Haram believes we all must convert to their brand of extremism or die. When you learn that the gateman employed by you has the right to get paid and promptly too, then you treat him right and pay it forward.
LIVE YOUR RIGHTS. Live everyday knowing that everybody you interact with has the same right to life as you. The moment you act in a way to devalue that life, you are essentially trampling on their rights. Doesn’t matter if that person is of different faith than you, doesn’t matter if they ‘sin’ differently than you, doesn’t matter if they act differently than you, what matters is that they have their right to Live, work, sleep, feed, get paid, associate and much more, so long as those their rights don’t trample on yours.
It’s a tricky subject but simple.
Here is what I want us all to do. Actually, I didn’t suggest this, a lawyer/human rights activist did, so he must be on to something. #InternationalHumanRightsDay #FreeAndEqualNaija is what we want to get trending. Use the hashtags on all social media platforms.
Yes, that’s what we want trending, a free and equal Nigeria, Human Rights for every Nigerian, no exceptions.
Is that impossible?
No it’s not, maybe not 100% free and equal.
But 99%? Surely!
Written by Anyibaba