The Nigerian Movement for the Liberation of Western Sahara (NMLWS) is honoured to welcome you and your delegation to Nigeria. This organisation is a movement of the Nigerian people with affiliates who have millions of verifiable members. One of them, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) which is hosting our office and this Solidarity Meeting, is the largest labour centre in Africa. Another of this movement’s active affiliates is the Trade Union Congress (TUC) which also has millions of members, and is one of the largest trade unions on the African continent. The leaders of these centres who attend the meetings and functions of the NMLWS are not personally here to receive Your Excellency because they are away in Geneva attending the Centenary Anniversary of the International Labour Organisation (ILO)
We also have seventeen registered Civil Society Organisations from women, youth and social organisations who are registered as members of this organization.
Your Excellency, the Chairperson of the NMLWS is Professor Ibrahim Gambari who was appointed in 2010 by the United Nations (UN) Secretary General as the Chairperson of the Joint African Union – United Nations Special Representative to Darfur. He is also the Special Adviser on the International Compact with Iraq and Other Issues for the UN Secretary General. What can also be significant to this meeting is that Professor Gambari was Nigeria’s Foreign Minister in 1984 when this country formally recognized Western Sahara as a sovereign country.
Our Coordinator who is coordinating this event, Dr. Dipo Fashina is a past President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) the umbrella organization of all academics in Nigerian universities. ASUU is also one of the most active organisations in this Solidarity Movement with the people of Western Sahara and has hosted an international conference on the Western Sahara Question.
Your Excellency, with millions of friends in Nigeria who solidarize with the Sharawi people, you can see that here, in Nigeria, you are at home amongst friends, comrades, brothers and sisters. So you are welcome to one of your homes in Africa. There are some of your fellow African Heads of State who we, our members and affiliates will not touch even with a ten- foot pole. There are some of them who will not dare come to a labour centre like the NLC without a state of emergency being declared. We cannot be friends or receive people who perpetuate colonialism and exploitation; who betray the very essence of African brotherhood and the soul of humanity.
Your Excellency, except for Ethiopia and Liberia, the whole of Africa was colonized; some like Nigeria by the British, Morocco by the French and Western Sahara by the Spanish. Today, all Africa is free except Western Sahara where rather than decolonize, the Spanish state which colonized Western Sahara in 1884, decided to invite another African country, Morocco to perpetuate the colonization. This is in order to continue the 135 years of the theft of Western Sahara natural resources and the exploitation of its people.
Is it not surprising that the European Union (EU) which is loud in shouting about human rights, liberty, freedom and equality, is in league with Morocco stealing the natural resources of Western Sahara?
How can countries claim to be for human rights yet tolerate the continued gross violation of the fundamental human rights of the Saharawi to freedom, peaceful existence and development? Refugee camps are supposed to be temporary shelter for refugees and people in refugee-like situation, never in the history of humanity, has a people been forced to live in such camps, as many Sharawis have been forced to live, for 44 years now! We do not know any people who have suffered such inhumanity. Yet the international community says it is interested in human rights, and even claims to be fighting for animal rights.
Your Excellency, in 2009, on this same premises, we hosted one of Africa’s most irrepressible women; Aminatou Haider, a daughter of the Sharawi people. When on November 13, 2009 she decided to return to her ancestral land, the Moroccan Monarchy blocked her; refused Haider entry and deported her to the Spanish Canary Islands. It took a huge international campaign before the monarchists allowed her return on December 17, 2009.
In that infamous act, Morocco once again displayed the fact that the Sharawis are not Moroccan citizens or does a country refuse its citizens entry and deports them?
Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen, Humanity must not continue to live with such evil; she must not condone the worst type of Apartheid ever perpetuated. This movement, as your able ambassador in Nigeria, Ambassador Malainine Sadik-Bashir must have been reporting to you, is fully committed to the liberation of Western Sahara, and everywhere Morocco seeks to perpetuate its evil deeds, we are there to challenge it. We sometimes do not succeed, such as stopping Morocco from returning to the Africa Union, but sometimes we do, such as stopping it from being admitted as a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) We felt that the Ebola-like contagious foreign policy of Morocco must not be allowed to spread to the West African Region. Currently, apart from combating Morocco’s corruption-driven attempt to suck in some Nigerian officials to support its colonization of Western Sahara, we are also engaging the Nigerian Government to stop the Fertilizer Producers and Suppliers of Nigeria (FEPSON) from its indecent liaison with Morocco to sell in Nigeria, Western Sahara phosphate and natural resources plundered by Morocco.
Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Nigerian Movement for the Liberation of Western Sahara on behalf of millions of Nigerians demand that:
· Morocco quits Western Sahara and allows the complete decolonization of the territory.
· The UN classifies Morocco’s gross violation of the rights of the Sharawi including their journalists and human rights campaigners, as crimes against humanity and takes appropriate measures to bring the perpetrators to book.
· The UN formally resolves the Western Sahara Question by ensuring the complete decolonization of the territory.
· Europeans and the European Union cease their collaboration with Morocco in stealing the resources of Western Sahara including its fishes and minerals.
· President Mohammadu Buhari, under whose leadership in 1984 Nigeria recognized the independence of Western Sahara, should remain on the side of history by firmly standing by the Sharawi people and letting Morocco know in no uncertain terms that Nigeria stands by the principles of fairness and justice for all human beings. Nigeria must continue in its time-honoured tradition of being our brother’s keeper like we did in Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau, Cape Verde, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa.
Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen, we also wish to use this opportunity to express our solidarity with the people of Venezuela and Cuba because they have a right to sovereignty. And with the Palestinians because like the Israelis, they have a right to a homeland and to live in peace.
Our solidarity with these peoples are based on the teachings of Brother Malcolm X who declared: “I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.” Forward Ever, Backward Never!