As the world commemorate the 2022 International Day of Tolerance, the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Chief Tony Ojukwu (SAN) has observed that acts of intolerance across Nigeria require urgent solutions to pave way for actions that support reconciliation, peace, security and sustainable development.
Specifically, Ojukwu bemoaned the alleged attacks on some political parties and the violent activities of non state actors and cessationist groups, saying it has caused fear culminating in the refusal of the use of halls and stadium by the party in power against opposition political parties.
“All these amount to human rights violations and acts of intolerance” he said.
The Human Rights boss spoke on Wednesday at the commemoration of the 2022 international day of Tolerance held in Abuja.
The event, in collaboration with the International Federation on Ageing-Nigeria (IFAN), Ojukwu applauded IFAN for collaborating with the National Human Rights Commission to commemorate the 2022 International Day of Tolerance.
According to him, the timing was apt considering that Nigeria is gearing up for the 2023 general elections and campaigns, stressing that discussions may be laced with misinformation and hate speeches that could lead to electoral process characterise by crises that occur before, during and after voting.
He said “Nigeria is faced with the challenge of communal and religious conflicts as well as election-related violence that affects most parts of the country”.
Consequently, he said “we must make bold statement to encourage tolerance and create awareness of the intersection between reconciliation, social Cohesion, interpersonal and cultural dialogue, Justice and human rights protection in Nigeria”.
He maintained that promoting tolerance, social Cohesion and protection of human rights can only be achieved when all stakeholders in the country come together to ensure that government fulfils its obligation to provide welfare and security as provided by section 14 (2)b of the 1999 Constitution as amended in order to prioritize welfare and security.
Ojukwu said “we must be committed to social justice and the improved well being of our people.
Continuing, he said “the citizenry and leaders of thought also have critical roles to play in promoting tolerance and supporting efforts towards achieving lasting peace, reconciliation and social harmony”.
Also speaking, the National coordinator, IFAN, Ike Willie-Nwobu lauded the NHRC, adding that to counter the rise of ignorance, extremism and hate based political appeals, the moderate majority must speak up for shared values and against all forms of discrimination.
He noted that true tolerance requires the free flow of ideas, quality education for all, respect for human rights and the sharing of culture for mutual understanding.
He said the objective of IFAN with NHRC is to “explore research programmes and studies on the effect and impact of intolerance on diverse stakeholders ranging from communication, Niger Delta, Culture, Women, North East, Finance, Investment, Tourism among others”.
“We will create, develop and facilitate the project and programme while NHRC host, manages and implement under an agreed terms for mutual benefits” Willie-Nwobu said.
In a Goodwill message, the Director General, Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Dr Bakut Twash Bakut stated that Tolerance is the panacea for peaceful coexistence.
Bakut, represented by Dr. Mohammed Mohammed, Director, Democracy and Development studies of the Institute, emphasised “Tolerance is accepting other people way of life. If we must have a peaceful society, we must tolerate ourselves”.
He also canvassed for advocacy and sensitisation and therefore solicited for collaboration with the media.