Wole Soyinka International Cultural Exchange > Services > WSICE 2022 – CITIZENSHIP & Nation Building

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CITIZENSHIP & Nation Building... The case for Rights, Freedom & Justice

Advocacy Session
Date: TUESDAY, JULY 12, 2022. Time: 4pm. Venue: Virtual

Theme: CITIZENSHIP & Nation Building… The case for Rights, Freedom & Justice

NB: All of the concepts (terms) bear relation to situations in not only Nigeria’s socio-political realities but also in developments in the global space.

This is indeed very apposite now in the context of the discourse around Nigeria’s quest for nationhood.
The agitation by different nationalities for separate identities, and the consequential rise of separatists has spotlighted the need to re-examine the whole notion of Citizenship, especially as it relates to the variegated
components of the so-called Nigerian nation. And in particular, with the reluctance by the government of the day (and a section of the political elites) to hearken to the persistent call for Restructuring or to even tolerate
the agitations by peoples across the spectrum, the problem around appropriate definition of Citizenship will always arise.

As we move into 2023 electioneering season, more agitations are likely to wash up as we are already seeing in the heated political debate about the leadership recruitment process.

Nation Building
This is the major preoccupation of Nigeria and its people as we prepare to transit to a new political dispensation. And it is naturally tied to the question of Citizenship. Nations are built by people who subscribe to be members of the family, and who must be properly mobilised to believe themselves as bonafide citizens with all the perquisites that come with it.

It is impossible to build a true NATION without a well-mobilised and convinced Citizens, who believe that their Rights, Freedom and Justice are guaranteed in such a Nation. As the aphorism goes, you can only help build a house that you believe belongs to you, or in which you would always be wanted, or respected.

NB: This ties to the theme already adopted for the Essay competition: New Dawn and the involvement of the Youths, as communicated by the segment’s producer, Lady Lynda Amadi.

It is common knowledge that respect for rights of citizens have been grossly endangered in the country, and the situation has worsened in present dispensation, especially with recurrent illegal arrests and detentions and other forms of subterfuges against the people by both State and nonState actors. For CITIZENSHIP to be affirmed and mobilised for NATION BUILDING, respect for RIGHTS has to be entrenched. The UN charter to which Nigeria subscribes, is firmly founded on the universal concept of fundamental Human Rights. Nigeria is in gross deficit in this all-important need of humanity.

The space for Freedom of Expression has gradually shrunk substantially in the past few years, unhelped by the consistent push by the Federal government to introduce anti-media freedom laws that tend towards the era of draconian military regimes. A dangerous addition in recent years, has been the trampling on Freedom to Life by non-State actors, who seem to take advantage of the general state of impunity in the polity to constrict the freedom of others. Key example is the killing of Deborah Samuel, the Year-2 student of Shehu Shagari College of Education over so-called ‘Blasphemy’. Just few days ago, another person, a Vigilante at a market in Abuja, was killed by persons who have taken the laws into their hands to determine application and interpretation of Laws of the land. It is apparent the country now has two sets of rulers: State and the Non State.

As the WSICE Poetry laureate, Efe Paul says:
Justice has been kidnapped in my country,
no one’s willing to pay her ransom.
She was absent at the tribunal when the verdict was given,
so the marauders were declared winners,
though we know the votes were phantom.
Chaos convulses the land;
the tranquillity’s been shattered,
We can’t piece together the peace.

Justice has indeed become the greatest victim of the impunities that currently rule the country.
Many of the citizens have been short-changed in their pursuit of Justice for their rights and cases, and have thus lost confidence in the State to serve them judiciously. This is one of the reasons many of them are taking the laws into their hands. This is exemplified in the rising cases of jungle justice and wanton killings in several parts of the country, the South East and South West, coupled with the rage of bandits and “terrorists” in the three regions of the north. This again is a factor adversely affecting the affirmation of Citizenship as a process towards Nation Building.

Jahman Anikulapo
Project Consultant

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