Nigeria @ 52: SERAP Tells FG to Commit To Urgent Socio-Economic Rights Reform and End Poverty
A civil society group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has urged President Goodluck Jonathan government to mark the country’s 52ndindependence anniversary by “urgently committing itself to socio-economic rights reform and end systemic poverty that has remained the bane of millions of Nigerians for decades.”
The organization in a public statement dated 30 September 2012 and signed by its Executive Director Adetokunbo Mumuni stated that, “The struggle for political freedom and independence from colonization was widely applauded by our people but over five decades after Nigeria gained independence the country’s enormous natural resources and wealth have not been utilized for the prosperity of the country and its peoples. Rather, socio-economic conditions in post-independent Nigeria have remained precarious, and consequently millions of our citizens embarrassingly remain in poverty and misery. For such people, the promises of independence remain unfulfilled.”
According to the organization, “As far as providing for the economic freedom, equality, dignity, welfare and well-being of millions of Nigerians is concerned, this country has remained in permanent transition, and years of broken promises illustrate that successive governments have lacked the necessary political will to achieve the dreams of our founding fathers.”
“Today, high level official corruption is widespread and pervasive. Millions of Nigerians face hunger and malnutrition; several millions of children of school age are out of school—on the street. Everyday, thousands of Nigerian children die of preventable illnesses while tens of thousands of women a year die in pregnancy and childbirth. Several people living with HIV/AIDS are denied access to life-saving medication and treatment. Millions of Nigerians lack access to improved water sources and to improved sanitation,” the group stated.
“Nigerians are deeply sceptical that this government has what it takes to genuinely tackle poverty and provide basic necessities of life to millions of poor citizens. If this government is to be taken seriously it needs to begin urgently to demonstrate sufficient commitment and political will to end high level official corruption, recover stolen funds, and lead the campaign for a constitutional recognition of economic and social rights as legally enforceable human rights,” the group further stated.
“Public office is a public trust. It is therefore essential that those who are privileged to hold high positions in government use their leadership positions not only to shape government policies but also to represent the highest values of morality. SERAP therefore calls on President Goodluck Jonathan to rededicate himself as public servant and to uphold the public trust and to protect Nigerians against the evils of corruption”, the group concluded.
The organization also stated that, “The struggle for political independence will continue to mean little to poor Nigerians as long as this government continues to pay lip-service to or ignore these fundamental issues of human rights at the heart of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).”
“Further, although Nigeria has ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), it has failed to domesticate and make the treaty part of national laws. This failure by the Nigerian government to recognize economic, social and cultural rights of Nigerians as legally enforceable human rights is a betrayal of the vision of the drafters of the UDHR,” the organization added.
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