The World Marks Indigenous Day: Towards a New Nigeria.
August 9, every year is the date set aside by the United Nations as the World Indigenous Day. The Ethnic Minority and Indigenous Rights Organization of Africa (EMIROAF), celebrates with indigenous nationalities, tribal, cultural and civil society organizations all over the world to mark this glorious day that reminds and strengthens them in their struggle for freedom and liberty. We commend the United Nations and all its agencies for the great solidarity and support to indigenous peoples in all their continued struggles for self-determination, economic and social development.
Yearly, August 9, brings together millions of indigenous peoples and civil society organizations from the five continents of Africa, Asia, Europe, America and Australia to promote solidarity among indigenous nationalities within the United Nations system.
Through lobby, debates, research, case and group studies, indigenous and ethnic nationalities the world over, have made steady progress at the United Nations. Right from the first approach to the League of Nations in 1923, about the cruel, harmful and repressive nature of the centrally controlled heterogeneous states imposed on the world by centuries of slavery and colonialism to the establishment of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) on July 28, 2000, and to the consequent adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) on September 13, 2007, it has been a great breakthrough for which indigenous nations will for ever be grateful to the United Nations.
The mandate of the UNDRIP made provisions on how to pursue the struggle for self-determination, autonomy, economic and social development by indigenous peoples without violence.
Articles 3, 4, 9, 13, and 20 of the UNDRIP says, and I quote,”
Article 3, “Indigenous peoples have the right to self determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development”
Article 4, says, “Indigenous peoples, in exercising their right to self determination, have the right to autonomy or self-government in matters relating to their internal and local affairs, as well as ways and means for financing their autonomous functions”.
Article 9, says, “Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right to belong to an indigenous community or nation in accordance with the tradition and customs of the community or nation concerned. No discrimination of any kind may arise from the exercise of such a right.”
Article 13, (1) says “Indigenous peoples have the right to revitalize, use, develop and transmit to future generations their histories, languages, oral traditions, philosophies, writing systems, literatures and to designate and retain their own names for communities, places and persons”.
Article 20 (1) says, “Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and develop their political, economic and social systems or institutions, to be secure in the enjoyment of their own means of subsistence and development and to engage freely in all their traditional and other economic activities.”
The goals of the Nigerian state as outlined by the nationalists at independence laid emphasis on the political, economic and cultural autonomy for the federating regions. Any intimidation or harassment of indigenous citizens because of their struggles for self-determination, therefore tantamount to genocide and a grave crime against humanity.
In summary, EMIROAF recommends that the different nationalities in Nigeria, including the Edo, Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, Idoma, Tiv, Itsekiri, Jukun, Igala, Ebira, Ijaw, Isoko, Fulani, Kanuri, Nupe, Ibibio, Efik, Gbagl, Ewe, Batonu, Birom, Ikuere, Ika, Ukuani and all other ethnic and indigenous nationalities not mentioned here should go to their respective centre of civilization in their God given territory to discuss and workout the basis of their co-existence with other nationalities. The era of the centrally controlled nation state has become obsolete that needed to be consigned to the scrap heap of history. The only guarantee for survival, peace and unity in Nigeria is the recognition of the ethnic and indigenous nationalities as the federating regions.