It is my pleasure to welcome you this morning to this sensitization and awareness creation program on human rights amongst youths and high school students. It is timely indeed and I wish to congratulate every one of you for having the good sense to choose to study in this prestigious college. Your experience here and your success is important to the school and the society. I have no doubt that at the end of this program many of us will be greatly equipped to own up the human rights campaign in Rivers State, Nigeria and the World at large.
You are very fortunate to get this awareness at your age and at a time the Nigerian society is urgently in need of human right education especially social, economic and cultural rights which are indispensable for the free development of human personality. This is declared in Article 22 of the universal declaration of human rights. The social right of everyone is very important but today, the social right of many young people are not respected and protected especially in the school environment where many young people are forced to become secret cult members which leads to the violation of other human rights, like right to life, expression, movement etc.
I believe strongly that while you are here at County Grammar school, you will have the opportunity to learn new things, acquire new knowledge, develop new skills, and enhance your personal attributes in profound ways that will equip you for life ahead. At the same time, you will make new friends who will become your friends for life, with whom you will share memories of your secondary school days for many years to come. One of those new things you have come here to learn is what Society for Women and Youth Affairs (SWAYA) and Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (YEAC) have come to share with you on human rights.
Gentlemen, Human rights abuses and violations in our country Nigeria today is on the high side, according to Dr. Ifeanyi I. Onwuazombe, despite the universal declaration of human rights, abuses and violations of human rights in Nigeria and in the oil producing communities in particular cut across the entire spectrum of rights. The abuses come in different forms and could be direct or indirect. He further states that the inhabitants of the Niger delta region are subjected to regular rights abuses and violations by the state security agents and the oil corporations and that the perpetrators of the rights violations are hardly or never held accountable or brought to justice due to the myriad of problems besetting the judicial system in Nigeria. These are burning and vexing issues that require that we all stand up together to ensure that human rights education is taken to everyone. The students are not an exception in this, reason we are here today to empower you with knowledge about basic facts about human rights to become human rights defenders and educators in the school environment and the society at large. As leaders of tomorrow leading yourselves today, there is no better time to be part of this than now. I see in you the enthusiasm; I see age on your side and all the strength you could think of that if put into human rights education can change the narratives in Nigeria. The world is waiting for you to be that desired change.
Lastly, I will like to leave these with you, the school is a melting pot where you are molded to give you your desired shape. You have come from different backgrounds and communities to pursue your ambitions as students. In a large institution as this, it can be tempting to stick with the familiar and that is especially true with respect to the people with whom you associate. But it would be a lost opportunity to stick with your own all the time, embrace difference. Get to know people who are different from you. It could be someone from of a different ethnicity, a different religion, who has different views from yours, or who has different interests and perspectives. You might or might not change as a person by embracing the differences but you will get a better understanding both of yourself and of those who are different from you. Knowing others and understanding others will help you develop as tolerant individuals, it will also give you an opportunity to know more about human rights, be it cultural, ethnic, religious, political, economic etc.
The world is in dear need of your contributions to make our society better. It is possible that we can change the narrative of this great Nation together.
Thank you for your attention.