Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Supervising Minister of Defence Mr Labaran Maku has said “Nigeria is not under threat”.
The minister who spoke at a function to commemorate Nelson Mandela and Murtala Mohammed by the Abuja Collective said “Yes we have challenges, we have challenges of terrorism in two states in the north east…”
He suggested that as a way forward Nigerians “need to tell our story that gives hope”.
He hailed Mandela and those who nurtured him as well as Nigerians who supported the anti-apartheid struggle.Maku also singled out Winnie Mandela for commendation for her role in the struggle.
In his opening address at the event Comrade John Odah said “We chose to commemorate Comrade Mandela’s transition today, the 13th February, to coincide with the anniversary of the 1976 assassination of General Murtala Mohammed. We bear testimony to the fact that Nigeria’s frontline role in the struggle for the Liberation of the Southern African sub-region reached its peak during the short reign of General Murtala Mohammed as Nigeria’s Head of State”Odah said.
“On behalf of the Abuja Collective, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you to this commemorative event in honour of Nelson Mandela, who joined his ancestors 70 days today, following a most eventful 95 years sojourn on this earth.
“Comrades from the anti-apartheid era in the universities, students and labour unions and other progressive professional bodies in and around Abuja felt it a duty to celebrate the passing of this towering stalwart of the South African struggle, because in his lifetime, in his actions and deeds, in his persecutions and perseverance, in his resolute refusal to succumb to carrot to betray his people and win personal freedom, in his resolve to die for the struggle to free his people if need be, Comrade Mandela inspired millions of people around Africa and the entire world.
“As young people in tertiary institutions around Nigeria, as workers and young professionals, the inspiration that came from the launch of Umkhonto we sizwe (the Speaker of the Nation), which Mandela was the first leader of, was enormous. The mission of the new armed wing of the ANC as released in December 1961 stated thus:
A time comes in the life of any nation when there remain only two choices: submit or fight. That time has come to South Africa. We shall not submit and we have no choice but to hit back by all means in our power in defence of our people, our future and freedom.
In the Nigerian context, while the government and people were virtually united in a national resolve to support the decolonisation process in the Southern African sub-region as a whole and South Africa in particular, it was not all the time that the rest of civil society were in agreement with the government of the day on the particular direction the struggles should be supported.
Among the dignatories at the occasion were some ambassadors,Mr Jay Naidoo ,Femi Falana SAN,Dr Moses Tedheke of NDA and Comrade Issa Aremu,Aisha,Dr Jibrin Ibrahim,Comrade YZ Yau ,Dr Hussaini Abdu of ActionAid,Idayat Hassan ,director CDD,Dr Kole Shettima and Mr Emma Ezeazu of ACE among others.
Falana particularly urged politicians to stop laying claims to Mandela’s legacies.“There is no need to be possessive of his legacies. We are celebrating Mandela today but very few observed the forces that shaped his early life to learn to give a life of service to humanity” the human rights activist said.
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