“THE Right to freedom of expression is enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal declaration of human rights, which sets out in broad terms the human rights that each of us has. It was later protected by a raft of international and regional treaties. Freedom of speech or freedom of expression, applies to ideas that may be deeply offensive. While international law protects free speech. Chapter 4 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is replete with sections that speak to the necessity of all governments and individuals to accord the greatest respect to fundamental freedoms, chief of which is the Right to freedom of Expression in section 39 which specifically provides that ‘every person SHALL be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information without interference.”
With the above citation, Civil society group- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has blasted the politicians criticising the public endorsement of the Labour Party’s Presidential Candidate Mr. Peter Obi by former President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, just as the Rights group said any political party or Presidential candidates criticising the open endorsement of Peter Obi by erstwhile President Olusegun Obasanjo is not a real and genuine democrat but an anarchist because if they are Democrats they ought to be guided by the tenets of the fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution.
HURIWA said those politicians expressing public angst at the public endorsement of Peter Obi by erstwhile President Olusegun Obasanjo are showing early sign that if they are elected Nigerian President, they would be intolerant to dissenting opinions and could progressively become dictators.
HURIWA recalled that former President Olusegun Obasanjo had authored a thoroughly articulate and lucid letter in which he recommended the candidacy of Peter Obi of the Labour Party because in the thinking of the respected statesman, Mr. Peter Obi is amenable to corrections if he goes wrong because he is responsive and receptive to corrections and that the Labour Party candidate has indisputable credibility in all facets of leadership and therefore can be trusted to deliver quality leadership if elected the Nigerian Predident in the coming Presidential poll.
HURIWA recalled that the endorsement of Peter Obi by Obasanjo has attracted criticisms from the other political formations such as the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party even as the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress Bola Ahmed Tinubu said he pitied his Labour Party’s counterpart, Peter Obi, following his endorsement by former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Tinubu said Obasanjo can not win his polling unit hence Obi is at risk for associating with former President and that the endorsement is meaningless.
HURIWA however carpeted the All Progressives Congress Presidential Candidate Bola Tinubu for dismissing the endorsement of Peter Obi by erstwhile President Olusegun Obasanjo because in the thinking of the Rights group,Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu is known to have visited the respected statesman Obasanjo in his Abeokuta mansion begging for endorsement and the Rights group dismissed Tinubu’s falsehood that Obasanjo can’t win his polling unit when it is historically accurate that Olusegun Obasanjo won landslide elections twice to emerge the President of Nigeria for eight years from1999 after he had served many years ago as military President of Nigeria. HURIWA said it is shocking that Bola Tinubu is dismissing the endorsement as meaningless meaning that Bola Tinubu’s position on the endorsement is similarly meaningless if we go by his conclusion that the endorsement ab initio is meaningless.
HURIWA is therefore canvassing greater tolerance of dissenting opinions by candidates seeking for the votes of Nigerians in the coming election because according to the Rights group, constitutional democracy thrives under the atmosphere of the free exercises of the entire scopes of the fundamental human rights provisions enshrined in the Constitution and codified in the diverse international human rights laws, treaties and conventions signed on by Nigeria and domesticated into our local statutes and laws.