A coalition of over 50 civil rights organisations including the Nigeria Labour Congress and Academic Staff Union of Universities on Saturday threatened to draw a battle line with businessman and Africa’s richest man, Alhaji Aliko Dangote over his planned investment deal with Morocco.
They were protesting against the continued occupation of Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, popularly known as Western Sahara by Morroco.
Morocco has been under international spotlight over the continued colonisation and subjugation of the people of SADR.
Dangote was said to have informed a business forum in Lagos that his firm was close to signing a multi-billion Naira deal with a Moroccan company to supply phosphate to feed a planned fertilizer plant.
But the President of NLC, Dr. Ayuba Wabba and ASUU President, Dr. Nasir Isah Fagge, during the inauguration of Nigerian Movement for the Liberation of Western Sahara, in Abuja, warned that such plans would elicit a strong and organised resistance from the labour movement.
While describing Dangote’s planned business deal with Morocco as an affront on the rights of the people of Western Sahara to self- determination, Wabba expressed the determination of the NLC and it allies to stop the deal.
He expressed shock at Dangote’s planned business prospect with Morocco, especially at a time when the global community were pushing for economic sanctions against the Morocco.
The NLC President said, “An injury to one is an injury to all. We heard that Dangote is planning business prospects with Morocco. We are ready to bring the full weight of the people to stop such business deal. We call on Dangote to respect the self-determination efforts of Saharawi people.”
He decried the deplorable conditions of the people of Saharawi and expressed the commitment of the NLC, in conjunction with civil society organisations to the total realisation of the rights of the people to self liberation.”
Also speaking, Fagge said, “In all of this, ASUU’s position is that no effort must be spared to set Western Sahara free from Moroccan captivity. We therefore call on all and sundry to give the Nigerian Movement for the Liberation of Western Sahara all the support it requires in achieving its core objectives. For now, every business interest in Morocco by any Nigerian should stop.
“We must all remain united in this historical mission to set Western Sahara free. For, it is only in the freedoms of the Saharawi people that the freedom of every Nigerian, nay African, can be meaningful and defensible. So, the struggle continues.”
Responding to this, the Group Head, Corporate Communications, Dangote Group, Mr. Anthony Chiejina, told our correspondent that Dangote promotes investment and economic liberation in Africa, while also providing job opportunities.
He said, “At Dangote, we do things that align with Nigeria’s best interest.”
At the event, a civil rights activist and President, Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, McMalachy Ugwumadu, was inaugurated the Legal Adviser, NMLWS.
In his keynote address, the Chairman, Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, called on African leaders to put pressure on the members of the United Nations Security Council to support the process of decolonisation of Western Sahara.
While calling for collective efforts to liberate the people of Western Saharawi, he however, insisted the UN could not be entirely relied upon, adding that only Africans could resolve it.
“As we now live in a world where the relentless forces of globalization and the threats to national, regional, and global security are growing on a daily basis, a threat to peace and security anywhere should be seen as a threat to peace everywhere and thus demanding collective response. The continued denial of the exercise of the right of self-determination by the Saharawi people constitutes a threat to international peace and security,” Gambari emphasised.