By Lizzy Okoji
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama has called on the global community and Nigeria to adopt non-violence approach as a means to resolving conflicts, as the World Celebrates Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th posthumous birthday.
Onyeama made the call on Friday in Abuja during the virtual closing ceremony of the 150th birth anniversary organised by the Indian High Commission in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Gandhi is celebrated on October every year as the International Day of non-violence in accordance with a unanimous UN resolution in 2007.
Gandhi is remembered as a nationalist, who fought for the Independence of India using non-violence, a philosophy which has been emulated by other world leaders in achieving peaceful resolutions.
Onyeama said that posterity will always remember Gandhi’s adoption of non-violence resistance in his nationalist struggle against the social ills of his time and promoting mainstreaming civil rights for all his compatriots.
He disclosed that the same approach was embraced and adopted by Martin Luther King in his Civil right movement in the United States of America and Nelson Mandela in South Africa.
Onyeama noted that Gandhi’s peaceful approach was so impactful and became the model and standard for those fighting for justice across the world, which proved to be worthy of emulation
“So, as we mark the 150th anniversary of this great Indian nationalist as well as the International Day of Non-violence, it is our hope that the non-violent approach will consistently be the preferred method for resolution of national and international conflicts.
“The world clearly needs more peace and less violence. We owe a great debt and gratitude to the Mahatma because he showed that the peace and non-violence is a very potent weapon to secure peace.
“It does not necessarily have to be an eye for an eye, which as he said makes everybody blind. On behalf of the Federal Government gives a 100 and 50 cheers to India,” Onyeama said.
Onyeama also noted with great satisfaction the robust and huge bilateral relations between Nigeria and India, which according to him, both have a long economic and socio-cultural tie that dates back to the 60s.
He said that the trade partnership between both countries is moving with India now Nigeria’s largest trade partner, which has been of mutual interest to both countries.
The Foreign Affairs Minister said India has evolved into a model for developing countries, saying India has made great developments in many spheres and probably the number one destination for medical tourism in Nigeria.
Onyeama appreciated India for the 120 million line of credit given to assist Nigerian defense industry and in the fight against terrorism, which has further shown the solidarity between both countries.
Speaking earlier, India’s High Commissioner to Nigeria Abhay Thakur said that Gandhi was a global icon of peace and non-violence, whose life and message continues to guide the world and help in tackling the challenges of the contemporary world.
Thakur said that Gandhi Ji’s philosophies and teachings is what has made India succeeded and thrived as a diverse multi-religious and multi ethnic country of 1.3 billion people.
“Gandhi laid emphasis on the welfare of all as well as the lowest man.
“Gandhi Ji’s name concerns the bounds of his religion and nation’s state and as emerged as the prophetic voice of the 21st Century.
“The world remembers Mahatma not just for this passionate against the practice of non-violence and supreme humanism.
“But as the benchmark against which we test men and women in public life, political ideas and government policies and the hopes and wishes of our shared plans.
“It is Gandhi Ji’s philosophies and teachings that underpin today’s India as a diverse multi-religious and multi ethnic country of 1.3 billion people,” Thakur said.
In his remarks, Mr Allen Onyema, Chairman, Air Peace Airlines said as a student on non-violence, who studied Gandhi, he used his philosophy to restore peace to Nigeria’s Niger Delta region in 2005, which helped in addressing militancy in the region.
“It was his philosophies, practices and principles that I used in the Niger Delta that brought about the fall off of violent militants when everything seemed to be falling apart”.
The ceremony ended with a presentation of 150 lamps to a Nigerian NGO, Ajike People Support Centre in Kwara State with the unveiling of the NIPOST commemorative stamp on Gandhi by Foreign Affairs Minister, Onyeama.