Datong Dominic Gwaman : The Nigerian Crisis: The Pursuit of Social Justice
The Nigerian Crisis can be described largely as a struggle for survival. The farmer wants to protect his crops from the herdsman, the herdsman wants to feed his cattle, the youth is struggling to buy his clothes to meet up, women want to be able buy clothes and bags whenever they want, parents want to pay school fees and pay home bills and so on and on. The is mostly made manifest in the quest for “equitable” distribution of Government positions both in the state and in the Federal. Each of these issues are taken in isolation by those affected and see theirs as more important than those of others. The quest to resolve these issues is what draws youths to crimes, parents to cut corners at workplace, housewives to cut corners in the home, farmers clash with herdsmen and a lot more. For those that are not able to resolve their “issues” by those means, they are full of anger and flare up at the slightest provocation transferring their underlying problems to any member of the society: animate or inanimate. 😊
Each aggrieved person is angry with the Government rightly thinking “if there was a better Government, I won’t be in this shit”. Each feels that he would have the “solution” to the problem if his “Brother” is appointed to a governance position. Then the struggle goes into politics: some pick up tribal lines, some religious, some regional, some nepotistic and some just revolt against government. Unfortunately, all those that have won through any of the primordial segregations are discovered to be worse as the issues persist. Voters then change their approach to the solution to another primordial sentiment and the circle continues without the “Solution” to their problems in view.
This is the root of the crisis in Nigerian polity: Social Injustice (real or perceived).
So what is “Social Justice”? It is the concept and practice that promotes fairly equal opportunities, political rights, distribution of wealth and privileges (etc.) to citizens without regard to their race, religion, tribe or other primordial sentiments. Social justice allows communities to achieve development looking at the society as the provider and not an individual. Social justice reduces the crave for crime and anger among members of society that normally translates into violent clashes between either societies or individuals.
The absence of social justice brings about all sorts of segregations in the society including nepotism, sectionalism, racism and religious (etc.). These are just consequential survival strategies.
The crisis in my state, the Plateau, is not too far from this. The solution we always try to proffer are solutions that further aggravate the problem itself. For example, to “appease” the Hausa community, an appointment is given to a Hausa man. Well, one Hausa man is not the community of Hausas. After giving him the appointment, the percentage of Hausas who are in poverty does not reduce. It raises another “murmuring” amongst the other communities. Then we have communities against communities and the cycle continues.
The pursuit of social justice is the solution to our unending crisis.
Datong Dominic Gwaman
Conflict, Security and Development Expert