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#IBelong Campaign: Jenny Chisom Understands Statelessness in Nigeria and the National Action Plan + Shows Off Tee

Are you stateless?

Guys, I just learnt about Statelessness days ago, precisely on December 7th as it was the theme of a high level event the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR in Abuja invited me to as a blogger. It did not really occur to me that there are human beings whose movements are restricted, who cannot get an education, cannot open a bank account, cannot access healthcare or be employed legally because they do not possess any form of identity of nationality, birth or the like.

Ever imagined that?

People who maybe due to displacement, illiteracy, poverty and ignorance or were trafficked at birth or adopted were not registered at birth, never got a national identity of their country of birth until they found themselves in another country amongst many other circumstances.

This shirt says NO TO STATELESSNESS and I am rocking it

That is the concept called Statelessness.

Statelessness is indeed a human right issue and a development issue and if we must realise the SGDs in the context of Nigeria's Development Agenda, it must be put in proper perspective and eradicated enabled by law. To think that as much as over 11 million people in the world are stateless thus not considered nationals of any state. State in this case means country.

Even though it is about 10 million people that are documented as stateless with 1 million of them from West Africa, the numbers are definitely more, considering the lack of proper census and population documentation in countries like Nigeria.

At the event I learnt that Nigeria signed the Abidjan Declaration on the Eradication of Statelessness in ECOWAS member states and have since 2016 discussed the causes and consequences of statelessness in a stakeholders meeting. The arm of government at the forefront of this include the Ministry of Interior (present at the event), UNHCR as support as well as various ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government, as well as Civil Society Organisations, the Academia, and the UN Agencies.

The campaign that keeps this advocacy going is called #IBelong , established in November 2014 which is geared towards transmitting the National Plan of Action (NAP) to Eradicate Statelessness in Nigeria, so Nigeria needs to implement the NAP. Key activities that provides a window for government action is the ongoing National ID Card scheme as well as the 2019 upcoming National Census.

At the event facilitators such as Dr. Siga Jagne, ECOWAS, Lt. Gen Abdulrahman Bello Dambazu -Minister of Interior represented by the Permanent Secretary, Prof Chidi Odinkalu, as well as a representative of UNHCR Roger Hollo and ECOWAS spoke on the milestones covered so far in ensuring this advocacy was sustained and xraying the challenges that Nigeria face as it is not addressed. The Global Action Plan to end statelessness is from 2014-2024 and within the 10 years the objectives are clearly outlined with a 10 actions to end statelessness.

In the book "Nationality and Statelessness: A Handbook for Parliamentarians, the foreword states that "Everyone has the right to a nationality. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality" as supported by the Article 15 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This issue may seem minute, but I heard case studies of individuals who lost families, marriages, children, belongings due to statelessness and inability to prove their nationality thus are denied basic rights and meted with all sorts of atrocities. Watching a documentary set majorly in Senegal, co-produced by organisation like Open Society Foundation, I saw real people especially males roaming the street and suffering injustice in their effort to earn a living because of the issue.

Oh, how they are so vulnerable to dehumanization and trafficking!

JCBites, do you have a valid Birth certificate from your hospital of birth? If not, the National Population Commission advises you go get the document called -Attestation of birth at any of their offices in every state of Nigeria.

No need acquiring fakes identities. Until our laws regularizes the other components of the National Action Plan, let us start with getting our authentic identity documents.

I support the eradication of statelessness in all of its form.
Check out more picture from the event and the videos I made stating my stand on this matter.

More pictures from the event is HERE.