Mar 11, 2011, 2:03 PM
Edwin Nebolisa Nwakaeme, born in a family of nine and the second in his family.
One would say he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth taking the fact that
his parents had enough financially and educationally to see the family through.
The family though hoping for their children to become priests in the Catholic
Mission could not get little Edwin to become one he rather chose the path his
parents were on, that is Human and Peoples Rights activist, for what his father
was killed. Inside
EIG: What about your early beginnings in line with your job sir?
Edwin NN: I was born in a royal family
EIG: What were your interests in the University?
Edwin NN: While in the University, I was the coordinator of the Amnesty International. I formed the Pan African Youth Movement in the University as well you can now see my interest.
EIG: Why only Human Rights?
Edwin NN: The essence of this was due to the human rights abuses that was going on in the campus, both from the students, lecturers and lecturers' attitude towards lecturing, was a serious cause for concern.
EIG: Who are your mentors in your career?
NN: I have so much love for the likes of those who fought for
the rights and dignity of Africans, in the likes of Kwame Nkruma, Doctor Nnandi
Azikiwe, Patrice Lumumba and Saikou Touray. These people had a special vision
EIG: What did you start doing after your university studies?
Edwin NN: I worked with the Civil
Liberty Organisation at River State Branch as Deputy Coordinator. I also worked
with Social Communication, at the Archdiocese of Onitsha, South Eastern
Nigeria. I moved to the then Justice and Peace Commission now called Justice
Development and Peace Commission and worked as deputy Coordinator at the Apapa
zone. I have also worked with street children in
EIG: How did you make a head way then in the midst of small resources?
Edwin NN: During the period, I received encouragement from His Eminence Bishop Christian Cardinal Tuni, Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cameroon. Most of these children were forced to prostitution, stealing, some tried to form robbery gangs. I for saw their rights were violated in many ways.
EIG: Where are the kids today?
Edwin NN: Well, I left them with some Sisters called Daughters of Divine Love (DDL). I left them when I decided to take up my Human Rights job. But I believe one day I will be able to let my organisation grow to have a rehabilitation home.
EIG: What is the motivation behind your desire for Human Rights work?
Edwin NN: In today's world, what is
called social and political injustice, I told you my university experience. I
come from a place where police brutality was often perpetrated. Let me tell you
a story, of a true-life experience that I had in
EIG: How big is your organisation?
Edwin NN: The organisation is called
EIG: Since you got into defending Human Rights have you made any impact?
Edwin NN: You know change comes gradually. We have made steady changes though we have not gone on air. We write letters to governments and we dialogue. It's not easy! Most governments see human rights workers as from the West that are paid to go against them. We are not like that. We don't believe in confrontation we believe in dialogue.
EIG: How do you see the challenges of your university day in terms of abuses that you stood for and the broader ones today?
NN: I must say that things have changed a lot. There was no
democracy then. It was the military. If you say something the
Have you added your voice to
NN: Not necessarily to the international community because they
support most of the acts. The international community includes mostly the
Whom do you think should be blamed for
EIG: Any advice to governments that are against Human Rights?
Edwin NN: They should uphold the integrity of their constitutions, which they swore to while assuming office and have a profound respect for the rule of law. They should encourage an open society and public participation. The issue of transparency and accountability should be their watch - word and moreover, they should come with tangible programmes and policies that will empower the youth to take over the democratic and governance system while they would be there to guide them.
EIG: Any advice to the citizens of the continent?
Edwin NN: They should be able to stand up for their rights. They should try to resist all forms of intimidation and come up with ideas that can promote government policies and governance structures. The issue of citizenship should be done away with by Africans but also try to work hard towards the promotion of regional integration. It is pretty difficult to travel through the sub region.
Have you raised your voice in line with difficulties faced at borders in the
sub region and
NN: At the AU Summit in
EIG: Anything else you want to talk about that we left out?
NN: Yes! The problem of
We need people who can help us at the
frontiers of our borders and they should help us safeguard our nation. These
are the government and its agencies, the law - makers and the judiciary. It is
only to learn to respect the rule of law and uphold our constitutions, then
EIG: Thanks a lot sir.
Edwin NN: You are welcome!