Nigeria: “Human rights activists of today are cowards, they are afraid to die for the course they are pursuing”

February 20, 2017

This rather shocking statement comes from Nigeria. Two newspapers sources ( and The Anchor on Line) report on events held to mark ’50 years activism’ by the Agbaakin Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oloye Rasheed Olalekan Alabi, where such hyperbolic language was employed. One was held on 21 January 2017 at the Nigeria Union of Journalists’ Press Centre, Ibadan. The other on 20 February in the Excellence Hotel, Lagos State. Other strong language was used there to make Nigerian youth more aware and committed…read of yourself…:

Agbaakin Olubadan, Oloye ‘Lekan Alabi Marks 50 Years of Human Rights Activism

Agbaakin Olubadan, Oloye ‘Lekan Alabi

Chief Alabi (short version) was lauded for starting his activism as a 17 year-old student when he wrote a letter to the then Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon about the detention of Wole Soyinka in 1967. The Chairman of the event in Ibadan, Chief Areoye Oyebola, pointed out that Oloye Alabi’s activism “offers the Nigerian youths of today an example that can motivate them to show similar initiative and courage in facing the very complex problems Nigeria faces today”. Chief Oyebola then stated that “today’s youths should feel ashamed of themselves and should know what they are living worthless lives, meaningless existence if they fail to organize themselves to well-structured groups throughout the country”

When asked if he faced harassment in the course of his journey into activism, Oloye Alabi replied “you can expect harassment.  Don’t engage in bigmanship because if there is no divine backing, it can backfire. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe once said with his two PhDs, if he encounters someone with a gun, he would not mind prostrating before the person”.

In his remark, Chief Alex Anozie observed that “we have all become cowards, we are afraid to die and we have love of money. If someone wants to be courageous, the moment an envelope is placed before him, he shrinks back”. He also averred that “our youths are occupied with the new communication world which they are using negatively. 24 hours of the day, they are married to their GSM picking negative things”.

Professor Osisioma Basil Chinedu Nwolise asked what would happen if peaceful methods fail. “I remember visiting Abiola at home and asking him thrice if he needed guerillas, he never gave an answer. When I got back to Ibadan, I told the Governor of Oyo State then that there is no future in this struggle. Even our television stations did not help. One was playing Stand Up For Your Right; another was playing Give Peace A Chance”. Responding, Chief Alabi  however opined that violence does not pay. He advised that rather than resorting to violence, people should apply legal means of pressing home their demands.

At February event Chief Alabi himself  is quoted as saying: “Human rights activists of today are cowards, they are afraid to die for the course they are pursuing…They love money rather than being the champions of the causes of the masses.’’ Alabi spoke with newsmen at the launch of his book “Review for public good”. He advised human rights “activists not to mortgage their future and those they were fighting for by receiving bribes if they still wanted to be relevant.. If someone wants to be heroic and courageous, the moment an envelope is placed before him, he is likely to shrink back.’’ According to Alabi these attitudes are unhealthy for the profession. It makes the public to disrespect human rights’ activists as some of them would have lost focus of what they should be doing.



One Response to “Nigeria: “Human rights activists of today are cowards, they are afraid to die for the course they are pursuing””

  1. Jim Loughran Says:

    This statement does not bear scrutiny especially when we realise that according to Front Line Defenders Annual Reports for the last three years 635 human rights defenders have been killed precisely because of their peaceful human rights work.

    Since 01 January 2017 27 HRDs have been killed so the issue is not the courage of the HRDs bur rather the cowardice of governments in confronting the issue

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