by Festus Ogun
Today, 2016 Nigeria is simply synonymous to the Hobbesian State of Nature. In this State of Nature, it has been said that life is solitary, nasty, brutish and short. This was the era of survival of the fittest where there were no laws. The world had since left this sorry state and have embraced civilization – where societal happenings are now directed and controlled by laid down laws and rules.
While Hobbes was analyzing his State of Nature, he pointed out that for man to leave this state, all the citizens must, as a matter of fact submit all their powers to the sovereign and the sovereign in turn owes a duty to protect and advance the cause of his people.
In Nigeria today, the citizens have submitted their powers to the sovereign – government. This is usually done through the series of elections conducted in the country. Now, for the government of Nigeria to fulfill her share of the social contract, she owes a duty to protect the lives and properties of the citizens and to see to the citizens’ welfare.
Interestingly, section 14(2)b of the 1999 Constitution (CFRN) provides that the security and welfare of the citizens shall be the primary purpose of government – Is this the case in Nigeria?. With this, it will be apt to say that the real meaning and essence of government is to protect the lives and properties of the people. The government must first of all see to the growth and advancement of the lives of his people. When this is the case, this same government that is supposed to protect lives should not join the bandwagon to take away lives of the good citizens illegally. Though, the right to life is guaranteed by the ‘government’ ,yet this same government have no license to illegally eliminate citizens from the face of the earth – Nigerian government have been killing her own people over the years, directly or indirectly.
However, as highlighted in the last sentence, the situation in Nigeria is a different ball game entirely. Inspite the fact that the citizens have submitted their powers to the sovereign, the government have woefully failed to keep good his share of the social contract. Even with all the provisions of the constitution stated above, the government have largely discarded this provisions and the lives of the citizens are left in jeopardy. The laisser-faire attitude of government towards the citizen in the area of lives-protection is second to none.
The eyes and ears of the public have been both blinded and deafened by consistent news of death and destruction of citizens’ lives and properties. With the nonchalant attitude of government in Nigeria, it appears to me that they have outlived this purpose. Since the classical reason for governmental establishment has been trampled with, it will suffice to submit that this government is as good as a paper tiger or toothless bulldog. We all know about the story of the Chibok girls that have been held in captivity for about two years. We know of daily killing of the Boko-Haram sect. We are equally aware of the day-to-day news of death recorded from our roads… to mention a few. The question that bothers my mind everyday then is that: how can we attest to the fact that this government of ours is ‘useful’ if all these are happening in a presumed ‘civilized’ society? Put in another way, what is the essence of government if all these still happen? Is it not that the government is no different from that original State of Nature?
You see, if this government has been showing sympathy for all the wrongdoing caused by her, the story would have been a better one. Unfortunately, the uncaring attitude of government towards the citizens is the main cause of the sudden collapse of the country. Some weeks ago, nothing less than ten people were confirmed dead in a road crash in Ibadan. The crash was reported in the news and up till today, no condolence messages or ‘anything’ has come forth from our government – this is only one in million cases of how the government have proven its uselessness. Now, tell me, how is this government different from the Hobbesian State of Nature where life is very short?
Sadly, many of the citizens still singing songs of praises to these men in government. Instead of motivating them by ‘words of constructive criticism’, they have only succeeded in exalting them so as to get a slim wad of ‘kolanut’. This act is shameful, sorrowful and embarrassing. And this reason is why the nation remains in crises. The hard truth is not always told to the government, rather words of deception have been used to radiate governmental atmosphere.
At this juncture, there is need for the government to take the business of governance very seriously – it is no play thing. They must realize, in case they are not aware, that the government owes a primary duty to protect the lives and property of the citizens. They must be quickly reminded that they must not cause, by their actions and inactions, any breach to the social contract between us and themselves. Wait a minute; did I just say they are unaware of their roles? They are. Even, they know more than us. Now, what is needed is self-reorientation and personal repentance. This nation cannot move forward if the main purpose of government – property and lives protection – is not carefully handled.
God bless Nigeria.
Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija
Festus Ogun is a Law undergraduate of OOU.