By Emmanuel Elebeke
Agbor in Delta State came alive recently when the human rights community stormed the town to educate the people on their fundamental and inalienable rights. Led by Nollywood star, Ramsounoa and Executive Director, Social and Economic Rights Action Center, SERAC, Mr. Felix Muoka, the rally was part of activities to commemorate the International Human Rights Day which is celebrated every December , 10.
The celebration which was organised by the New Dawn Center for Leadership and Development ND-CLD, and SERAC started with a dignity walk at the Mobil Petrol Station, along the Old Lagos- Asaba Road and terminated at the Ezinne Events Center also along the Old Lagos- Asaba Road in Agbor. A discussion forum was thrown open for the people to un-bottle their feelings.
Addressing the rally, the Nollywood actor described the event as a trail blazer and timely. While commending the organisers for their forthrightness, Ramsounoa identified a plethora of issues militating against the enforcement of human rights in Nigeria.
They include poverty, illiteracy and unemployment. To start solving the problem, he said Nigeria must begin to eradicate poverty and illiteracy as they are the major obstacles facing the nation.
“ Most people can’t afford a meal a day and they lack basic needs of life. So many people cannot afford to eat in the real sense of it. We must try to find a way to ameliorate poverty in the land. The major challenge is education. We have to educate the people, that way, they can understand what they are supposed to do.
For people to understand the meaning of human rights, we have to start from the grass-root. We live in a society where rules and regulations are not followed and the only way to go is to educate the people,”he said.
The SERAC Executive Director who also addressed the rally, said the NGO’s decision to hold the rally in Agbor was necessitated by the need to awaken their consciousness in defence of their inalienable rights, so that those who are strong in the society will not outsmart and swallow them in their weakness.
Muoka, a Lawyer, said SERAC aimed at building a society that people will be proud of. He lamented that we live in a society where all the resources that belong to everybody are hijacked by the few and powerful people in the society.
“ What we are actually doing today is to scale up our intervention. This is an event that is going to become a total investment in helping the people of Delta state to build a new understanding of themselves as citizens of Nigeria, as citizens who have got a right to defend, including the government, as citizens who can vote and have their votes count. As citizens who understand that bribery, espionage are not alternative for exercise of a democratic decision in an election,”he said.
“With this, we expect that people will begin to hold government accountable, begin to ask questions on what government is doing with their money at the end of the year. Nobody asks this question nor holds accounting meetings because it is more important than budget meeting.
At the meeting they should be able to tell the people how much they spent at the end of every year,”he added. He lamented the high level of ignorance among Nigerians, which he said had remained a major challenge facing the people from understanding their rights and how to protect them.
The United Nations General Assembly set aside every 10th Day of December to mark the World Human Rights Day in commemoration of the adoption of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, UDHR on December 10, 1948. The day serves as a reminder that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” and that the realisation of human rights is indispensable to the achievement of human flourishing and security.
The 2011 edition of the programmes was unique and remarkable as it was the first time the NGO is marking the Day in the area.
The move was a demonstration of concern and commitment by SERAC to promote and protect the economic, social and cultural rights of the people of Agbor in Ikah as citizens of Nigeria. It was also a way of giving the people an opportunity to express their feelings and share experience as regards the respect for their human rights
The events brought together representatives of citizen organisations, students, youth organizations, professional associations, senior citizens, the media, academics, lawyers, development actors, public officers, women and representatives of political parties including the popular Nollywood actor, Ramsounoa who lead the dignity walk.