On this year’s World Human Rights Day, the world comes together to celebrate the inherent dignity and equal rights of all members of the human family. Focusing on Nigeria, it is an opportune moment to reflect on the nation’s progress, challenges, and collective responsibility to ensure a future where human rights are universally respected.
Nigeria, like many nations, has witnessed strides and setbacks in its human rights journey. The country’s diverse population, rich cultural tapestry, and economic potential position it as a key player in the global pursuit of justice, freedom, and equality.
Over the years, Nigeria has made significant strides in promoting human rights. The country’s transition to democratic governance in 1999 marked a pivotal moment, opening avenues for increased civic participation and the protection of fundamental rights. Legal frameworks, such as the 1999 Constitution and the National Human Rights Commission Act, provide a foundation for the protection and enforcement of human rights.
However, challenges persist, casting shadows on the nation’s human rights landscape. Issues such as police brutality, gender-based violence, and restrictions on freedom of expression underscore the need for continued vigilance and concerted efforts to address systemic shortcomings.
The #EndSARS protests in 2020 shed light on the deep-seated issue of police brutality in Nigeria. While the government’s commitment to police reform is acknowledged, sustained efforts are required to ensure accountability, transparency, and a law enforcement system that respects the rights and dignity of every citizen.
Gender-based violence remains a pressing concern in Nigeria. Despite legislative efforts, the prevalence of violence against women and girls demands urgent and comprehensive interventions. Strengthening legal frameworks, promoting awareness, and fostering a culture of gender equality are imperative steps toward a safer society for all.
Preserving the space for free expression is paramount for any democracy. Nigeria must ensure that journalists, activists, and citizens can express their views without fear of reprisal. A vibrant civil society and a free press are indispensable guardians of human rights.
Human Rights Day serves as a reminder of the crucial role civil society plays in advancing justice and equality. Nigerian civil society organisations, activists, and advocates continue to be instrumental in holding the government accountable, promoting transparency, and amplifying the voices of marginalised communities.
As Nigeria navigates its human rights journey, there is a collective call to action. The government, civil society, and citizens must work collaboratively to address existing challenges, strengthen institutions, and build a society where every individual’s rights are protected and respected.
On this year’s Human Rights Day, let us celebrate the progress made and acknowledge the work that lies ahead. Nigeria’s commitment to human rights is a shared responsibility, requiring sustained efforts to build a nation where justice, equality, and dignity are not just aspirations but daily realities for all.