Sunday, 22 February 2015

Nigeria: Human Rights According to Onwubiko


Nigeria: Human Rights According to Onwubiko

BOOK REVIEW
WHO cares about human rights is a massive book by Emmanuel Onwubiko, a distinguished journalist and human right activist. Dr. Sam Amadi an attorney at law and former adviser to the Senate President on Research and Strategy, wrote the book's foreword. He detached human rights protection from the perspectives of the publicist. These essays are Nigeria's foundations of human rights, showcasing a humane environment for human rights to flourish.
The author formulates human rights into a template upon which to build a great nation state. Here, Onwubiko follows the activities of the law enforcement operatives, the politician, and the lawmaker into the recesses of each operational theatre where each is called to protect or promote human rights. The author brings an activist perspective into the essays. As an insider who knows where the problems lie, the author writes critically like an outsider. This volume is a repertoire of human rights literature extant in Nigeria in this day and age.
Who Cares About Human Rights has 144 chapters, an introduction, a foreword, 1030 pages and an acknowledgement. It was published in 2014 by Epikaya Communications Limited and printed by Yaliam Press Limited, Abuja, Nigeria. This book is a compilation of published articles written by the author between 2005 and 2014. As such, it ought to be read by every journalist, public officer, lawmaker and politician. It is a source of enlightenment to all and sundry, particularly the student and those interested in solving Nigerian problems creatively.
The first chapter wets reader's appetite as it makes an interesting reading. It is captioned, "Lies of Subsidy Removal proponents." Stating his intention not to ridicule the President of the Republic from the outset, the author avers that it appeared then that notwithstanding the President's good intentions, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) were bent on forcing the president to pull out whatever government pays as subsidy on petroleum products. That was in January 2012.
However, the proponents of subsidy withdrawal, who have populated the seat of power were clever by half because they foolishly padded up the subsidy withdrawal reinvestment blueprint with the same projects that for the past ten years have always appeared as part of the yearly budget approved by Parliament which never get executed by the Federal Executive. According to Onwubiko, this document titled Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme or SURE-P was a beautiful piece of fraud, intended to hoodwink Nigerians. Government framed subsidy as one big demon that has frustrated development and the building of the basic social amenities for the poor people of Nigeria over the years.
From the briefings the author received from Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, the Minister of Finance; Vice President Namadi Sambo; and the President himself, Onwubiko came out with the impression that the protagonists of oil subsidy withdrawal have purely run out of ideas and that they have chosen to use falsehood presented in the form of statistics to hoodwink Nigerians. Moreover, SURE-P is so packed with projects which ought to be handled by the ministries and indeed as opined by the president, if government was tired of borrowing money to service capital projects, and that only savings from SURE-P can enable the government to deliver these projects, then why didn't federal government collapse all the ministries into one office so that Nigerians can know that their oil wealth are not funneled into servicing the horde of lazy bureaucrats in those good for nothing ministries.
Even the Abuja-Lokoja dual carriage way that was started by the late President Umaru Yar'Adua has found its way into the SURE-P that is being paraded by the government as the only solution to Nigeria's social economic problems.
Human Rights and Nigeria at 49 is another interesting chapter of the compendium. Therein was shown that Human Rights infractions became much more pronounced during Nigeria's military rule soon after our independence in 1960. Some Nigerians considered as pro-democracy campaigners suffered one form of repression, imprisonment and rights abuses or the other.
Journalists like the late Dele Giwa who was killed through a parcel bomb during General Ibrahim Babangida's era, others were incarcerated by successive military tyrants for their commitment to ensuring that political rights of Nigerians were respected.
Chapter 11 treats Boko Haram imbroglio we are in now. The violent insurgency by Boko Haram is the biggest security nightmare confronting Nigeria since 1914, the year Nigeria was amalgamated. President Jonathan who took over in 2010 first as acting President and later as substantive president after the demise of Umar Yar'Adua told reporters that the Boko Haram insurgency was the largest and most disturbing challenge to confront Nigeria since independence. The on-going insurgency could be traced to 2009 when the police killed Mohammed Yusuf, the founder of Boko Haram in Borno. The remnants of Boko Haram then launched attacks on government institutions and banks. Some high profile attacks were successfully carried out at the United Nations Building in Abuja and the Police Headquarters.
Those attacks gave Nigeria a bad name, forcing countries round the world to convene conferences in London and Addis Ababa. In 2012, Nigeria and Cameroun signed an accord on border security. But unlike other leaders, Jonathan had not named any commander for the Boko Haram insurgency. Those mistakes have led to the festering of the Boko Haram insurgency.

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