It does not seem to me that there is an African nation that is not a member of the United Nations and membership of this global body implies a commitment by the national governments to protect the Human Rights of her citizens. Within the framework of the universality and indivisibility of Human Rights, the Right to a dignified life is intrinsically tied to the Right to quality and nutritious food and the promotion of other Rights, values and cultures that enable her citizens to continually and progressively live a more dignified life. It therefore becomes a matter of deep concern when African national governments subscribe to every International Development Program just because it carries the tag of food security when, in actual fact, the programs are targeted towards the looting of their resources and wantonly violate the rights of the citizens.
It is even more worrisome when the African national Governments enact legislations that violate the Rights of their citizens in favour of European and American Trans-national corporations because they want to maintain relationship with “world powerful countries.” The whole thing flies in the face of real human development which is about authentic advancement of the people. The integrity of collective humanity demands that we continue to push for deals that respect the inalienable Rights of all human persons.
Thus, as the AEFJN continues to advocate for fairer EU economic policies in relation to Africa, the African national governments must eschew any enticement to corruption at the expense of their citizens. They have to demonstrate that they have a robust capacity for good and just governance to be taken seriously by the international community. They are elected to feed the people, not to bleed them of their life-blood. In the final analysis, both the African national governments and the Trans-national corporations (TNCs) must be held responsible for the systematic violations of Human Rights by the TNCs in Africa.
A typical example of the non-committal attitude of the African national governments to the Human Rights protection of her citizens is the clandestine passage of the Bio-Safety law in Nigeria which, the then President, Mr Goodluck Jonathan hurriedly endorsed in the last weeks of his presidency. The law allows the introduction of industrial monoculture agriculture and genetically modified organisms (GMO) into the Nigerian agricultural sector. The reason advanced for the Bio-safety law is that industrial agriculture and GMOs hold the magic key to Africa’s food security, unemployment and other social challenges. This type of argument does not hold water as statistics have shown the reverse to be the case. It is only a ploy by the G8 to advance the corporate take-over and control of Africa’s food systems and crops.
The concern about the GMOs in Europe and America is mainly about safety for consumers. But for African countries, it is a hydra-headed and inter-related socio-economic concern that includes the systematic loss of farmers’ traditional Right to seeds in favour of patents by Transnational corporations. Would there be a more organized slavery than having the Transnational corporations of Europe and America control what Africans eat in Africa?
What is so pathetic about the Nigeria situation is that the process leading to the passage of the bill and signing it into law did not even meet an acceptable international minimum standard. The average literate Nigerian does not know what GMOs are all about, to say nothing of the larger non-literate population. Yet the passage of the law that will change their food cultures and systems was done without any effort to inform the citizens.
The story is the same for other African countries. In Tanzania for example, the Lipokera community in Songea, Revuma was forcefully displaced to accommodate the G8 SAGCOT (Southern Agricultural Growth Corridors of Tanzania) program which makes no contribution to the food security of the community and adds no value to the economy of Tanzania. The investors produce coffee for export and drinking coffee is neither food nor habit for the Tanzanians. There is a serious tension brewing between the community and the investors because the water on which the community depends on for its livelihood is grabbed along with the 5000acres of land on both sides of the river.
One then wonders why the African national governments would want to mortgage their countries for the personal gains of the few political elites. What is certain is that the various development programs offered to Africa are exploitative programs in disguise but whether the Africa national governments would come to terms with this hard reality and take their future into their hands is another story altogether.
Chika Onyejiuwa, CSSp