Making Of Anambra Social Contract & Detoxifying Its Polity:
(Democracy & Good Governance, Onitsha Nigeria, 28th October 2014)-Solutions to social contradictions have always produced heroes and villains right from the time of the Yore. This is because the entire global community and its environment have at all times been clothed with social contradictions. In the laws of the nature, contradictions abound. Among all living things including animals and plants, there are contradictions. The moment philosophy gave birth to natural and social sciences, contradictions set in leading to the birth of more philosophical children (disciplines). Science gave birth to technology, but today technology is its greatest headache and the environment's number one enemy owing to its hazards. The biblical genesis is inherently contradictory. In modern Christian and Muslim teachings and practices, there exist contradictions. There are inherent contradictions in cultures, values, mores, traditions, customs, etc. In international
political and legal systems, there are contradictions.
In the early eighties, when Aids/HIVs erupted, Christianity and other religious bodies saw them as end time punitive divine viruses and they offered total sexual abstinence as a solution and declared their victims as hell fire candidates, but science thought otherwise and swung into action to find its cure. While religious bodies followed them up with global stigmatization campaigns, science countered them with counter-stigmatization campaigns added to its feat in successful invention of their therapies. As recently as few months ago, when Ebola virus erupted in Nigeria, the Nigerian Christian clergies including the Catholic clergy changed their orders of service and introduced segregated service proceedings with their service sermons on the deadly virus centering on end time divine affliction to sinners. Science responded with curable solution leading to the recent declaration of Nigeria by the World Health Organization as ebola free country.
Very close to the year 2000 when it was popular among Christian populations that Jesus Christ might come in that year, most of the ICT appliances and applications ranging from television sets, mobile phones, internet or world wide web, creation and use of website; to social media like facebook and twitter were declared satanic devices or marks of biblical 666 by the said Christian preachers including their Nigerian counterparts and a ban for their use was handed down to their followers. But after the year 2000 passed and Jesus Christ elected to remain where he is, the reverse became the case. Today, another popular tone replacing the former is that Christ comes the day someone dies with instant judgment that follows it. Social contradictions in Nigeria have also created a culture of opulent clergies and impoverished laities. They have also led to total elimination of middle class and existence of a spiral gap between the haves and the haves not.
Instances of the menace of social contradictions in the country's polity are too many to mention.
In the laws of man, there are a whole lot of contradictions. In the art of government and its concepts, contradictions exist. Among natural and social science scholars, contradictions exist. The hallmarks of theories are their ability to contradict themselves. In art of governance, there are contradictions. As a matter of fact, contradictions are solely responsible for the birth and invention of government, laws, cold-war, world wars, civil conflicts, crimes and social vices, IGOs, NGOs etc.
Contradictions also divided criminal laws into mala inse and mala prohibita. In human rights, contradictions abound deeply. In family right of marriage, for instance, a cousin is granted a constitutional right to marry a fellow cousin in certain States in the USA, but denied in a number of other US States. Open exercise and enforcement of gay rights are not permitted in Nigeria, but they are the other of the day in the United States and other advanced countries.
Handling of social contradictions have made or marred families, persons, groups, religions, governments and societies. Once two persons or more start interacting, contradictions set in resulting in dispute, conflict or harmony. An individual is also confronted by contradiction leading to either self immolation or self harm or even self harmony. Social contradictions are usually noted with negative effects but when transformed, they are the best path to greatness. Those who transformed social contradictions inherent or implanted in their societies and localities always have their names written in gold. From Martin Luther, Pope John Paul 2, Jawaharlal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi, Ms Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Comrade Xanana Gusmao, to Nelson Mandela; the list is endless. On the other hand, they also produce villains in the context of those that failed woefully in handling them. From Mobutu Sese Seko, Mengistu Haile Mariam, Adolf Hitler, Mohammed Farrah Aidid, to Omar
Hassan el-Bashir; the list is also endless.
In Human Rights Community, the ability to understand these social contradictions is a fundamental step towards exhibition of competence in handling them. Understanding the theoretical and practical meaning of nongovernmental organization-NGO is also as important as understanding its roles in civil society. The fundamental role of a vibrant nongovernmental organization is to serve as a bridge through which the government and the people can reach and interact with one another. This includes narrowing the wide gap between them, getting government's attention towards making people's lives better and improved by way of delivery of social amenities and services. It also means getting people to act and live according to the dictates of the laws and popular policies as well as getting them to perform their civic responsibilities like common and community services, payment of legitimate taxes and utility bills and participation in electoral processes and art
The second most important function of a vibrant nongovernmental organization is to play the role of societal watchdog at all times. This includes critically and seminally studying and assessing government policies and actions to ensure they are in tune with legitimate popular demands. Where such policies and actions wholly or in part are considered inhumane, it is the duty of the NGO to blow its whistle with solutions consistently until its voices are heeded. In practical sense, no serious minded and vibrant NGO can separate itself from people and government; instead a balanced relationship is the best. This is because human rights and good governance are interwoven. There can be no human rights without good governance and no good governance without human rights.
When an NGO is too attached to the government or people, it loses its ability to be credible and powerful. Effective thematic areas of activity make it very difficult for an NGO to lose its focus and direction. Any NGO lacking these is a riff-raff NGO. Also any NGO that forms the habit of partnering with any government in power particularly in Nigerian context is doomed. NGOs must be part and parcel of enthroning democratic governance in Nigeria or any part thereof.
This is to ensure that the person chosen to govern does not emerge crookedly. NGOs and human rights fare much better under a popularly and credibly elected government be it at local, State or federal level. NGOs must change with changing circumstances including periodic modification of their thematic areas of activity. The world's first NGO-Anti Slavery International formed in 1839 died or fizzled out with abolition of slavery in the 19th and 20th centuries. Most of the cold-war era anti nuclear and chemical warfare NGOs have died or fizzled out except those that changed into their post era. Self sustenance both for NGOs and their leaders as well as choosing sizeable areas of advocacy is another good feature of vibrant and focused NGO. For an NGO to be able to function well and handle social contradictions in its fold and between government and people or among political actors without seemed compromised, these attributes are fundamentally needed.
Public interest must be at the center of NGO's activities at all times.
Our organization-International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law has since its formation in 2008 carried out all its activities in accordance with its clearly defined mandates (thematic areas). These mandates, defined for advocacy convenience are: democracy & good governance, civil liberties & rule of law, security & safety and international justice & human rights programs. Under the immediate past regime of Mr. Peter Obi in Anambra State, we functioned as a development partner and a bridge between the people and the government. While the Anambra State Branch of the Civil Liberties Organization left an indelible mark in the State owing to its successful fight against poll rigging and stealing of poll mandate culminating in Obi's Appellate Court victory in March 2006 and his gubernatorial enthronement, Intersociety also left a “legacious” mark in the area of partnership for good governance leading to unprecedented positive turn of
social events in the State including massive infrastructural, educational, health and other social transformations.
The highlight of the governance style under reference (economic governance) was the ability of the former government under reference to go beyond borders in search of positive and huge resources mobilization leading to massive resources deployment for multi sectored development without incurring huge public indebtedness. Loan regime governance in the midst of plenty and huge wealth potentials is worse than governance regime failure.
Board Chairman, International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (41, Miss Elems Street, Onitsha Nigeria). Emeka Umeagbalasi is also a Criminologist & Graduate of Security Studies; and MSc candidate in Peace Studies & Conflict Resolution