By Jerome-Mario Utomi
Justice, in the words of Thomas Aquinas, is the act of rendering to each person what is truly his or hers and, comes in two different forms; commutative and distributive. While commutative justice calls for equality between two persons, distributive justice is concerned with the importance of each individual to the entire society; unfairly favoring of one over another is a fundamental violation of distributive justice.
In reality, Nigerians during the 2018 democracy day celebration received what analysts referred to as a glimpse of retributive justice as the government took steps to right the long-standing injustices done to some Nigerians and on the nation. But somewhere along the line, that euphoria was again cut short, and justice once more raped by the mindless sack/destruction of a sleepy village in Barkin-Ladi local government Area of Plateau state, leaving the villagers decimated with dozens killed by the herdsmen. On top of this woes, came the petrol tanker’s inferno in Lagos that claimed several lives and left property worth millions of naira destroyed; developments that have since turned our country to a nation in grief, with the vast majority of Nigerians in their pains and hardship descended into despondency. And the nation greeted with enormous sympathy from the international community.
Regrettably, as the nation deplores these avoidable occurrences, it becomes even more devastating when one recognizes the interrelatedness of these events and their common denominator- our leaders demonstration of power with neither commitment nor love; a state of affairs that is considered bad for morals, and a fault that the Government and the security agencies must share from its guilt. Irked by these unpleasant realities, the relationship between Nigerians and the government as expected has suffered difficulty as many while reacting to Mr. President ’s visit to Plateau state lamented that what the people need is protection and not visits.
Also supporting the belief that the government may not have performed creditably well in this respect is the strong voice raised by the Afenifere, a Yoruba social-cultural organization. The Group had in a communiqué among other things stated that ‘they are distressed that the response of President Buhari to the murder of hundreds of ours did not attract any word of sympathy or regrets’. Expectedly, apart from the event of these past days painting us as a nation with one constitution, but follows different rules, it is also possible to discern three kinds of developments.
First, the inability of the FG to prevent or arrest the perpetrators of the nefarious act has lend credence to the earlier claim by the Catholic churches in Nigeria that ‘their recent protest was necessitated by the inability of the government to act on the several verbal and written complaints by the church; with regards to insecurity and bad governance, with others asserting that the president’s silence towards the killings showed that a cow in the estimation of the president has become more valuable than human lives.
Another barefaced truth which stemmed from the above is that the Plateau incident has renewed the call, and underscores the imperativeness of states police as recently mooted by the nation’s Vice President; a call I believe has become not just imperative but eminently desirable. To illustrate the effectiveness of the above call, Nigerians with critical interest have argued that if the state police had been in place, chances are that these gruesome killings in some sections of the country would have been better managed. Above all, the event of the past days stands a proof that it will be difficult for this administration to stamp out injustice or live up to good intentions unless it becomes strong and determined enough to deal with all transgressors, and without exception.
But one area of interest to watch is; for us to dispel this atmosphere of violence in this country, we cannot afford to overlook the root cause of these attacks as a random sampling of opinion indicates a rock-solid belief that what is fuelling these hostilities is the FG’s unwillingness to have the nation restructured.
As a believer in the unity of Nigeria, the truth must be told to the effect that the whole gamut of restiveness and resurgence demand for the dissolution of Nigeria’s stem from mindless exclusion, injustice, and economic deprivation. And, if appeasing the masses is the preoccupation of the Federal government, the template to solve these problems is already there: the Report of the 2014 National Conference. The holistic implementation of that report is germane to the survival of the Nigerians which is right now in its most fragile state since the end of the civil war.
Again, one thing seems to stand-out, the agitations for the death of Nigeria cannot go away when nepotism and sectionalism continue to be evident in the manner of political patronage and distribution of our common patrimony as currently obtained. What Nigerians are saying in views is that this time is auspicious for the devolution of power, and enthronement of a true fiscal federalism. To achieve a lasting peace built on justice, therefore, I will graciously urge Mr. President to overcome every temptation and have this nation restructured as Nigerians are committed to peace by any means necessary, but may not be committed to becoming victims of peace.
’The destiny of the ship is not in the harbor but in sailing the high sea’’ and so shall our collective responsibility be, not to destroy this great nation but join hands to nurture and sustain it. If we are able to manage this situation and another social menace effectively and navigate out of dangers of disintegration, it will once again, announce the arrival of a brand new great nation where peace and love shall reign supreme. But, then, no nation enjoys durable peace without justice and stability, without fairness and equity. To achieve this, we need greater trust in each other and the `government on their part must apologize to Nigerians that they have wronged.
Jerome-Mario writes via; Jeromeutomi@yahoo.com