Nigeria Needs To Ensure that Human Rights, Transparency and Trust is at the Centre of Recovery from Coronavirus

To commemorate the 2020 Human Rights Day, the United Nations Information Centre, Lagos hosted a webinar in partnership with UNICEF Nigeria, UNDP Nigeria and Nigeria Youth SDGs Network with support from Mentally Aware Nigeria, AIESEC Nigeria, National Human Rights Commission, Youth for Human Rights International and Building Blocks for Peace Foundation. This year’s theme – Recover Better: Standing Up for Human Rights focuses on how national governments are responding towards curbing human rights abuses and ensuring that human rights are at the centre of recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

The event moderated by Augusta Uzomah-Uwalaka of One2Ten Development Initiative and Dare Oluwadamilare of Youth for Human Rights International with the keynote speech by Dr Martin Ejike, a United Nations Human Rights advisor and the representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nigeria.  In his address, Dr Ejike spoke about the systemic impact of the COVID19 pandemic on young people with respect to education, employment, mental health, equality, rights, and voices. He referred to the global survey on Youth and COVID19 conducted by UN Human Rights and International Labour Organization in April/May 2020 and was released in August 2020 to commemorate the International Youth Day with 12,000 responses from young people ages 18 and 29 across 112 countries. The study highlighted the knock-off effect of the global lockdown on the rights of young people to freedom of movement and the concerns of young people to participate in a peaceful process. “Our responses to COVID19 and recovery must focus on addressing the challenges identified and human rights must be at the centre of government actions to recover better”, Dr Ejike said. In addition, Dr Ejike said “fairness, justice and respect for the rule of law are needed to strengthen the support of national effort in public health front. It is important for the government to be honest about the effect of the virus and demonstrate openness and transparency to ensure they are accountable to citizens”. In concluding his address, Dr Ejike calls against the use of excessive use of force by security officers in Nigeria and the need to protect women and girls who are victims of gender-based violence because of the lockdown.


After the keynote speech, four young people shared how they and their organizations showed leadership to lessen the impact of the COVID19 pandemic. Ifedayo Ward, a Director at Mentally Aware Nigeria whose work is focused on propagating mental health awareness, providing mental health support for individuals, families, and caregivers with a focus on Good Health and Wellbeing. During the height of the pandemic, they provided psychosocial support for over 5,000 young people in three months. Truth Egbe from the UNICEF Young Advocate Network where she supports the advocacy efforts of UNICEF Nigeria in promoting the rights and wellbeing of children in Nigeria. Immediately after the lockdown was lifted, an animation was created by the team to teach children how to protect themselves and their loved ones from the virus and inspire hope for the future amid the uncertainty. Rafiu Lawal from Building Blocks for Peace Foundation created a policy brief that will help the government better engage young people as well as campaign rollout figures on COVID19 preventions to combat fake news. The organization provided basic food items for families at the need to cushion the effect of the lockdown on families who are in dire need of help. Ahmed Abdulkadir from Street to School provides basic numeracy, literacy, and soft skills training for young people ages 16 – 20 based in the northeast of Nigeria so that they can live productive lives.


After the testimonials, the panel session with Oluwafunmilayo Oni of Iranwo Foundation, Nneamaka Omo from Nigeria Human Rights Commission and Joshua Alade from Nigeria Youth SDGs Network. The panel session focused on providing adequate justice for women and youth and the need to ensure that human rights are at the centre of the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.


You can listen to the webinar here.