Being a human rights activist is a great status to maintain. In the cause of the activism, there are lots of challenges as well as benefits. This paper attempts to explain some of the challenges and benefits of being a human rights activist using the Nigerian situation as a case study.
As a human rights activist, sincerity and honesty matter in the activism. More so, there are lots of challenges in the path. A lot of criticism and name calling by some critiques. Some would speak to intimidate, threaten, and tarnish your image, among others. In fact, some would call you a busy-body, intermeddler, etc. Some might even speculate and term you what you are not. But all these are not enough to deter a human rights activist from the sacrilege path. The human rights activism is not synonymous with political games. While in a political game, satisfaction of personal interest might be down-played, whereas, in human rights activism, no personal satisfaction is the goal, rather, the goal is satisfaction of the interest of the public, justice, national development, among others. So, those who do not know some of these attributes of human rights activism, pick unnecessary annoyance at any person who is out to sacrifice his own personal interest for the interest of all humanity.
In fact, a human rights activist balances the living of man on earth. Assuming that no one takes up the functions of a human rights activist, evils might likely be unavoidable on the earth. Tyranny, abuse of powers, oppression, corruption, etc., would prevail and so many citizens would become vulnerable and become victims of violation of human rights. Then, there would be justification for the oppressed to wage war to resist the oppressors in such situation. Then, everlasting war would prevail on the earth. One can tell about the historical wars in Nigeria where some persons feel that they have either been marginalized or oppressed then, form solidarity to resist the oppression. Blood flows like a stream; fire and burning everywhere like hell-fire; human remains everywhere like ants; then, the whole streets, areas, localities become emptied and dry like desert. Then, some for the fear of the un-known, commit suicide.
Slavery, Rape, torture and inhuman treatment, tyranny, etc. do not become offences and or unlawful in these kinds of situations. But what does a human rights activist do, he sacrifices his own life, time, energy, enjoyment, money, etc., to avoid things getting out of hands. Unfortunately, despite his sacrifices, he is sometimes mistaken, misrepresented and not even appreciated. I must advise that all these challenges are not enough to discourage a human rights activist. Fortunately, it has always been that among those who criticize are those who also approach a human rights activist for help and defence at the time of need. So, soon or later, where a human rights activist remains undeterred, he would be recognised for his sacrifices. Also, after a long period of struggles, some human rights activists are even offered an award or awards. It is true that some of these awards can be rejected or dedicated to a good cause. More so, that the goal of the activism is not for winning an award, rather to impact in the life of humanity. So, the path of a human rights activist is, many times, a rough, tough, and sacrifitic path. I must say that this paper is not intended to create fears in the mind of the reader, rather, to build confidence against all antagonism and criticism from all corners.
Furthermore, as a lawyer, being a human rights activist is necessary and important. More so, being legally equipped as a legal professional and practitioner, gives more value to the task. Young lawyers who engage in human rights activism would do well and have more achievements to themselves in the nearest future.
Also important to say is that a human rights activist needs to take God Almighty as his weapon always against all forces and evil eyes. Enemies abound from all corners, but with God Almighty, he would conquer and arrive itch-free and peacefully. God Almighty is the Most-Powerful; Most-Beneficent; the Most-Merciful; the Omni-present; the Omni-science; the Alpha and the Omega.
Furthermore, as a lawyer and a human rights activist, the activism would make you a leader anywhere you are. You would always be needed anywhere or wherever you are and your presence will always be noticed and your absence will always be regretted by all. For instance, I had travelled to Oshogbo sometimes a go. Then, I decided to withdraw at an ATM around 9am so that I would have some money to transport myself back to Abuja. Then, there were long queues of almost a hundred of persons who wanted to use the ATM. There were just two (2) ATMs for more than a hundred customers to use. I also joined the queue. Surprisingly, I was on the queue for about 30 minutes or more and everyone was complaining for being abandoned by the Bank, as despite the sunny day and the long queue, none of the bank’s staff came out to inform why the ATM and the only ATM in that area were not paying. So, when I observed all these challenges, I became uncomfortable. I saw myself as a person who must save and rescue humanity from troubles as a missionary from God Almighty.
So, I encouraged about two other men standing in the queue that we should enter the bank and lodge complaints. Some of them were scared but I got some brave men of about four in numbers who volunteered. So, we entered the bank and raised our voices lead by me to compel them to put the system in order. Believe me, about three bank officials came out to address us in the bank and promised to come out to address others in the queue and they equally apologised to us for the pains and inconveniences. So, we came out and other persons in the queue were praising us for the confidence and bravery that we displayed. Believe me, within 2 minutes that we came us, about two staff of the bank came out and loaded money into the ATM and we all started to withdraw in turns and people regained smiles. I was very happy too! When I finished withdrawing on my turn and I was to take my leave, a number of persons in the queue were commending me for the efforts and were waiving their hands to say goodbye with prayers and satisfaction! This is just part of what being a human rights activist would do for you as a lawyer. Also, you would be able to rescue yourself and your family as well as your community from oppression and injustice at any time.
Also, though, you spend your money to achieve some goals but not all goals require money. Some goals require only efforts, time or your voice to speak out. Also, using the instrument of the media as an tool for activism within the bounds of the law. And very soon or later, the money would come your way without any limit. Even if you are facing challenges, just pray and concentrate on your goal. So, as a lawyer, and being a human rights activist, you will not be in lack of God as well as man. In fact, your experiences gathered in the path would be an advantage to be at the peak of others or your contemporary. Even after your death, you are remembered till eternity. So, considering several other advantages and benefits of being a human rights activist, it is suitable for me to say that I am very proud to be a human rights activist! It is an unquenchable passion! I am a God’s missionary and His Vicegerent on earth!
Finally, I encourage senior lawyers who specialize in human rights activism to train more lawyers to take up the human rights activism after them and to equip them with adequate trainings. And I encourage young lawyers to find a path or career in human rights activism in the interest of justice and that of the public, without fear or favour as it is a way and righteous path that God Almighty as well as mankind is happy with.