‘My Letter to the Chinese Government: Will you speak up for Nigerians?’ by Olubuse Olufunmilayo

Editor’s note: Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation. It has the third-largest youth population in the world, after India and China, with nearly half its population under the age of eighteen. In the last few weeks, protests against a notorious police unit has mushroomed into a broader movement for reform in the country.

In this op-ed, one of Africans on China’s youth ambassador in Nigeria , Olubuse Olufunmilayo, writes an open letter to the Chinese government. It is thoughtful reflection of an African youth. Please read and do share to help amplify this voice.

With all due respect, I write this letter today as a concerned citizen of Nigeria. This letter is open because its subject matter is a major issue of contention to the inquisitive minds. I hope you are keeping safe from the wrath of Covid-19 pandemic.

I embitteredly draw your attention to the occurrence and aftermath of a nationwide outcry from well-meaning citizens of Nigeria requesting for better governance, an end to police brutality and an end to human rights abuse, amongst others. These Nigerians took to the street to peacefully protest for the promotion and effective implementation of their inalienable fundamental rights, thereby calling upon the Nigerian government to hastily attend to their demands.

Unfortunately, illegal and arbitrary tactics were employed by the government in a bid to halt the protest. Protesters were illegally arrested, victimized, disrupted by hoodlums and harassed by law officers. The straw that broke the camel’s back was the massacre that took place on 20th October 2020, where the militants released live ammunition on peaceful protesters.

This massacre, being an abrupt disregard for the rule of law and democracy, alerted multitude. There was outrage from both local and international bodies, diplomats, media houses as well as the International Criminal Court. A lot of sympathies, solidarities, supports and kind words have been expressed by different country leaders. However, China’s deafening silence is quite incomprehensible and unjustified.

I have always reverenced your genuine interest in Nigeria’s growth and development. Both countries have shared a long-lasting cordial relationship. China has proven to be an excellent partner through her long record of political and economic engagements. Therefore, it is highly worrisome that China has turned a blind eye to the ghastly situations in Nigeria.

Of course, you are not liable to extend any form of solidarity, support or kind gesture. Notwithstanding, I feel friendship should not be limited solely to beneficial favours. Considering your professed zeal to help rebuild Nigeria’s economy and future, I expected better. To this end, I demand answers to the questions running through my inquisitive mind, namely,

1. Is China silent because of her decision to stay neutral in domestic issues?

2. Is China’s silence influenced by her unwillingness to strain the relationship she maintains with Nigeria’s leaders if she lends a voice in support of the peaceful but victimized protesters?

3. Is China simply not aware of the massacre that took place despite the loud outrage?

Whatever the answer might be, I make bold to say that true friendship is gauged by the great efforts invested to assist the other party during times of tribulation. It is not a mere measurement of the assistance rendered by a party seeking to benefit from the other party. I still hope you are keeping safe, China.

Kind regards,

Olubuse Olufunmilayo Esther

Olubuse Olufunmilayo Esther is a student of Olabisi Onabanjo University of the class of 2024. She majors in Law and serves as a member of both International and local organizations such as Young International Council for Commercial Arbitration, Young African Leadership Initiative, Bright Network UK. Upon graduation, Olufunmilayo is looking to build a career in technology law or international law specifically Legal Data Analyst or Human Rights Activist. She believes AoCCLAP will sharpen her leadership skills and groom her to become a better vision of herself.

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