President Muhammadu Buhari extolling the virtues of “peaceful coexistence and self-determination”? Yep! And he did so in the hallowed Chamber of the United Nations General Assembly when he joined more than a hundred other heads of state, who recently converged in New York UN Headquarters, to listen to Pope Francis address the world body last week.

President Buhari, being a devout Moslem, was surely not intoxicated when he passionately pleaded for “self-determination for the Palestinian people and those of Western Sahara, both nations having been adjusted (adjudged) by the United Nations as qualifying for this inalienable right must now be assured and fulfilled without any further delay or obstacle”. Buhari has indeed learnt a thing or two regarding the inalienable right of indigenous peoples for him to adroitly become a champion of the urgent desire of Western Sahara and Palestine to assert their right to self-determination “without any further delay or obstacle”. That’s the Buhari I like to see at the helm of affairs of today’s Nigeria!

I sincerely wish that President Buhari had included the above excerpt in his inaugural address with regards to the aspirations of millions of his very own compatriots who yearn for their own inalienable right to determine their own fate by themselves within their ancestral domains in the Unitary Nigerian state of the past half a century. The Arab people, on behalf of whom he pleads, have many other powerful individuals and groups advocating for them as we speak. By adding his own special voice behind the global quest for self-determination, Buhari is notifying the United Nations Assembly and Pope Francis that, as a stickler for fair play and natural justice, he shall remove all “obstacles” and delay tactics which might impede acquisition of the inalienable right to self-determination for the plundered nationalities in Nigeria, including the indigenous peoples of the Lower Niger. That is good stuff.

Those who had feared that President Buhari might develop a heart attack and lash out instantaneously when confronted with the information about his fellow compatriots seeking their own self-determination may be terribly mistaking the changed mindset of the new occupant of the Aso Rock Villa. Buhari promised to lead as the agent of change. If his pronouncements at the UN General Assembly are anything to go by, the change  which Nigeria really needs today, above everything else, may indeed be around the corner. With the incumbent president at the helm, aggrieved ethnic nationalities which have gotten the raw deal since a unitary Nigeria was imposed on May 24, 1966 through the promulgation of the Unification Decree No 34 can now proceed with utilizing the 2007 UN Declaration on Right of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) to assert their inalienable right to self-determination, just like Western Sahara and Palestine.

Africa Demands Justice for Western Sahara at UN

Moroccan forces dismantle a camp housing thousands of refugees in the Western Sahara.

Moroccan forces dismantle a camp housing thousands of refugees in the Western Sahara.

Published 30 September 2015

Human rights groups say the Indigenous Sahrawi population of the country suffers widespread abuses at the hands of a Moroccan military occupation.

African nations continued demanding at the United Nations Tuesday the liberation of the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

Namibian President Hage Geingob told the United Nations’ 70th General Assembly that Western Sahara has a right to self-determination, and called for a long-awaited referendum of self-determination in the disputed territory.

“We equally call for the urgent implementation of all Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, with the aim of holding a free and fair referendum in Western Sahara,” Geingob said.

Geingob was the latest African leader to express frustration at the decades old political impasse that has left Western Sahara in limbo.

A sparsely inhabited territory in North Africa, most of Western Sahara has been occupied by the Moroccan military since 1975.

A thin strip of the territory’s east is administered by the Indigenous independence movement, the Polisario Front, which waged a guerrilla war against the Moroccan occupation until a 1991 U.N. brokered cease-fire.

Under the terms of the cease-fire, a U.N. mission was established in the territory with a mandate to oversee a referendum of self-determination. The mission has since been fiercely criticized by independence advocates for failing to organize a vote for over two decades, while human rights groups have accused Morocco of widespread human rights abuses against the territory’s indigenous population, the Sahrawi.

As many as 300,000 ethnic Sahrawi have been abused by Moroccan security forces, according to a report from one Western Saharan human rights group earlier this year.

RELATED: No End in Sight for Morocco’s Media Blackout in Western Sahara

While the Sahrawi-led Polisario’s government has limited recognition globally, it has broad support across the African continent.

The Polisario’s partially recognized state, the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, is a full member of the African Union, and sent a delegation to this month’s session of the U.N. General Assembly.

Since the session opened, a broad range of African leaders have demanded immediate action to resolve the simmering crisis in Western Sahara.

“We reiterate our support of the people of Western Sahara and urge the international community to support their struggle for self-determination, freedom, human rights and dignity,” said South African President Jacob Zuma Monday.

On the same day, Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe said he was “deeply concerned” by allegations of Moroccan repression of ethnic Sahrawi living under the Moroccan occupation.

“We urge the United Nations to expeditiously finalize what must be done to conclude the decolonization of Western Sahara,” he said during his speech to the assembly.

Similar sentiments were echoed by Nigerian President Muhammaddu Buhari, who appealed to the U.N.’s core values of “peaceful coexistence and self-determination” to demand a resolution to the Western Sahara conflict.

“As we engage in these annual debates, we need remind ourselves of the principles that led to the founding of the United Nations,” he said.

RELATED: Is Europe Complicit in the Plundering of Western Sahara?

Buhari continued by comparing Western Sahara to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

“In this context … the unresolved question of self-determination for the Palestinian people and those of Western Sahara, both nations having been adjusted by the United Nations as qualifying for this inalienable right must now be assured and fulfilled without any further delay or obstacle,” he said.


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