By Gideon Arinze
Human rights activist, Chidi Odinkalu has said that if nothing is done to stop the senseless killings in the North and the rising wave of human rights abuse in the country; that it will soon get to the South and then, the entire country will go up in flames.
Odinkalu spoke at the Big Ideas Podium organized by the African Heritage Institution with the theme: “Human Rights and Democracy in Nigeria: Agenda for a New Era”.
He maintained that failure by Nigerian leaders to cater to the needs of the entire citizenry has led to massive loss of lives and disregard for human rights.
According to him, “what we have seen over the years in Nigeria is a cycle of massacre and mass killings in the North East and the recent upsurge in the rate of banditry in the North West and Herdsmen killings in the North Central.
He regretted that intolerance and failure of leadership is responsible for the rate of underdevelopment in the country.
“Our national leadership has failed us. They have failed to account to us the electorate, and that is why we have had illegitimate government for years now” he said.
He maintained that if nothing was done to stop the senseless killings in the North and the rising wave of human rights abuse, that it will soon get to the South and then, the entire country will go up in flames.
Speaking further, he said “Our politicians believe they can instigate violence anytime for their personal gains because our youths are always willing to be used by them”.
“As a result, we are a country that is being ruled by ghosts because of the countless number of lives that have been lost. We are only committed to impunity. It is only in Nigeria where people comfortably rig elections and get away with it” he said.
On the way forward, he said that leaders in the country must begin to understand that they owe the electorate a duty to protect them and serve them better.
He said that the country has a rich history and that shows that things could still work out well. “We cannot attain democracy or achieve human rights when we do not have a capable country” he said.
Also speaking during the event, President, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Chistopher Isiguzo said that the country needs the collective and individual efforts of all Nigerians to deal with the challenge of bad leadership and ensure that human rights is maintained.
Isiguzo, who was one of the discussants at the Podium, said that the country has remained a train that is moving speedily towards destruction.
According to him, the challenge facing the country is the desperation to get power by some people who care less about the wellbeing of the citizens.
“We only know that our politicians exist when it is another season of election and then they come to us promising to work well” he said.
He lamented that everyone seems to have resigned to fate and continued to live with the imagination that all has been decided.
“We need collective responsibility to disrupt the existing status quo because it is not enough to talk about such issues,” he said. He emphasized that the media has a role to play in terms of providing accurate reports about governance,
He said the country must fight bad leadership and get Nigeria working again, through positive disruption and therefore, the urgent need to get the electoral system right.
“When we get the electoral system right, every other system will work fine, because it avails the people the right to bring in credible leaders” he said.
“We have not degenerated to this level before as a country. But beyond the spiraling issue of Boko Haram insurgency in the North East, Herdsmen attack In the North Central and Banditry in the North West, we must begin to look for the way forward else we shall wake up one morning to discover there is no more country” he said.
The Big Ideas Podium is a harvest of intellectual discourse, put together by the African Heritage Institution which synergizes stakeholders to discuss and proffer solutions to critical national issues.