Social Justice: How Did We Get To This Level? (1)
There are a lot of definitions about social justice but in this discourse, Social justice can be seen as justice at it concerns the distribution of wealth,opportunities and privileges in the society. Simply put, the aim of social justice is for human development. Where is our social justice in this country? Everything seems to be nosediving as the days go by. Mediocrity is being enthroned in our high places and we seem to have forgotten anything about meritocracy .Why must it be in my generation?
My late friend,a Nigerian, who resided in Japan while chatting with me one day,suggested that all the inmates in our prisons be released because according to him the sins of the inmates were just infinitesimal when compared to the atrocities committed by those in power and their well wishers . As this my friend returned to Nigeria to celebrate Easter with us ,he decided to drive around town, possibly to show off his wealth,that was a wrong decision as the driver of a luxurious bus showed him that this is where blind citizens and the crippled have driver's license certifying them fit to drive on our roads.
The young man,the only son and bread winner of the family was crushed by the luxurious bus driver. Somebody may ask me what happened later,what do you expect? We left everything to God while we collected his mangled remains for internment ,if it were you,what would you do? Go to the court? The transport company would go and get perpetual injunction restraining us from prosecuting the driver or the transport company. That is when the transport company is lenient ,the more shrewd ones would arrest us for allowing the deceased to drive the car in the first place and before you know it damages would be awarded in their favour.
Was it not the other day that my church member called me on phone to tell me that his daughter, a maid to a rich married man, was raped by the same man and based on my experience as a medical practitioner ,I advised him to move immediately to the nearest divisional police station to make an entry after which he could proceed to the nearest government hospital for medical examination and other professional services for proper documentation. That piece of advice was what saved that man as the suspect while discovering that the maid had run back to the father and for the fact that his atrocity might have been exposed,rushed to the Area command to make his own entry after which a patrol team was given to him to go and search for the father of the girl that was raped.
I am still confused till date on what the suspect might have told the police at the Area command as his own complaint that would make the father of the victim to become the hunted. The patrol team from the Area command came looking for the father of the victim but luckily the man was not around and the police dropped a note that he should appear immediately at their office. When he came back,he was told that he had turned to a suspect in what I called 'double jeopardy' .
His daughter was raped and the culprit was busy using the police to look for the victim's father,what a nation we live in?
He called me again on phone to inform me of the latest development,I told him to go back to the divisional police station where he reported the incident and inform them of the latest development. He went there and luckily for him,the investigating police officer was trustable ,he went to the Area command to tell them that the matter had been reported at the divisional police headquarters.Luckily,the area commander had no interest in the case hence the matter was referred back to the lower divisional police office for investigation. The action and reaction of the 'rich' suspect showed the level that we have degenerated to in this country where somebody will dupe you and rush to the court,making the victim a defendant/respondent while the culprit becomes the plaintiff/applicant ,paying his lawyers from part of your money while you are expected to go and borrow more money to finance the case,what an injustice?
I wonder if the biblical giants that the book of Genesis reported were able to reach our current crime level when God shouted that He regretted creating man in the first place. It is a matter of time,somebody will come in to rape your daughter,you will gladly ask him,whether he needs a condom or not,you may still go a long way to prepare the bed for him,and possibly thank him at the end of the dastardly act because if you do anything to the contrary,he will show you money is,if not everything,at least almost everything.
My heart bleeds when I realise that the natural resources that God gave us have turned to a curse. No government wants to probe the former administration because the revenue coming from the crude oil is unlimited. Probing the predecessor is a waste of time and big distraction for the current government to have its own bite of the national cake hence the impunity subsists in the nation. By listening to government owned radio and television stations,the amount of money they call for the award of a particular project is enough to trigger seizure in a sane citizen. They will tell you that the dilapidated road that you just passed has reached 95% completion.
At times you wonder their own percent whether it is still on a scale of 100 or not. See our NYSC programme,what use is march-pass in the orientation camp for a graduate who is the breadwinner of the family whose aged parents and younger siblings are looking up to for their survival?Recently,they will call entrepreneurs to come and deliver theoretical lectures which can never be implemented. Without financial empowerment ,what is the need for those lectures?The NYSC members are still paid about N19,800.How much is a plate of food?If an NYSC member feeds on the least nutritious food three times a day with N300 per meal,that means he spends N900 per day on food and N27,000 in a month of 30 days. It means that the NYSC member needs to look for an alternative source of money for his feeding while serving his fatherland. How many places of primary assignment can pay the balance of N7200?
Even if the place of primary assignment can pay the balance,is an NYSC member only meant for feeding while serving the fatherland ?What of the younger siblings left behind and the aged parents who might have been struck with one geriatric sickness or the other? By this pittance paid them as salary,the female NYSC members are indirectly compelled to make an alternative arrangement through prostitution in order to provide for herself other needs such as monthly sanitary pads and other toiletries ,some of them are not even given a room and they are mandated to go and rent their rooms possibly from the money their parents will send to them while serving their fatherland. Their male counterparts are indirectly compelled to go into social vices or to embrace the fast moving international trade popularly called 'yahoo yahoo'. Internet crime seems to be the only hope of these frustrated youths who are citizens of the Africa's largest economy,what a self deceit?
I remember when the management of NYSC proposed the payment of N4000 for intending NYSC members,I kicked against it,but when the members of the National Assembly intervened I breathed a fresh air .My late friend advised me not to be carried away by that intervention that what they were going to discuss would be the sharing formula of that N4000 ,I never believed him until national headline news showed that the House of Representatives had okayed the amount. I am still confused whether what my late friend prophesied was the reason why the N4000 was finally approved or not.
It is very disheartening to see our engineers with Bsc certificates going to take up teaching jobs in secondary schools where they are paid less than N15,000 while foreign engineers whose certificates are equivalent to our own diploma certificates move around our soil with retinue of our law enforcement agents. The foreign engineers are preferred to our own engineers because those in our authority knew what they did to the engineering equipment that should be procured for our engineering students to expose them to practical courses while still in the school. Another of my friend who was studying soil science ,a five-year course,complained to me that at fourth year he could still not be able to analyse a soil sample.
We are still teaching our kids with the old 'analog' curriculum that our colonial masters left for us in this current 'digitalized' world just because those that should be updating the curriculum must have gained the job by the help of the much-taunted federal character hence meritocracy is lost to mediocrity. When a system enthrones mediocrity,what does it expect ?Mediocre products will be the result ? ICT firms have learnt to give more preferences to those that learnt computer programmes from computer training centers than those from our tertiary institutions because those trained from computer training centers have more practical skills than those from our tertiary institutions.
It may not surprise me to see a computer graduate with first class Bsc certificate who cannot shut down a computer system because I am aware of the filth in the system. It is even possible that such Bsc holder in computer sciences or technology has never owned any computer in his life.
Section 14(3) ensures equitable distribution of resources and positions among the component states of the federation hence last year in the entrance examination for Unity schools,the following observations were made;
A cursory look into the marks shows that the lowest cutoff marks for states in southeast( Ebonyi 112) and southwest(Ekiti 119) states were greater than the greatest cutoff marks for all states in the Northeast(Adamawa 62) and Northwest (Kaduna 91) states. Also,the lowest cutoff mark in all southern states (Bayelsa 72) was greater than the greatest cutoff marks in all Northeast(Adamawa 62).Expectedly the overall three highest cutoff marks nationwide were all from the southern states,specifically the southeastern states of :Anambra(139),IMO(138), and Enugu(134) while the overall four lowest cutoff marks nationwide were all from the Northeast and Northwest states Yobe(male 2,female 27),Sokoto(male 9,female 13),Taraba(male 3,female 11),Zamfara male 4, female 2). What are we indirectly teaching our children from the northeast and southeast for an instance ? From the results above,We are teaching the southeastern students to prepare for meritocracy in all their endeavours in life while we indirectly teach the northeastern students to embrace mediocrity in anything they do in life,what a wrong teaching in these their formative years?
Meanwhile ,the former minister of education was absolved by the aforementioned section 14(3) of our constitution which encourages federal character . It follows that for a student/pupil to study harder depends on the particular region of the country that the individual hails from hence anybody from southern part of the country needs to study harder in all examinations while anybody from the northern part of the country especially the northeastern and northwestern states needs not to study harder as federal character will be an added advantage. Owing to this,the smart ones change their respective states of origin when applying for entrance examinations where federal character will be a criterion for admission hence it will be common to encounter scenarios where somebody answering Chukwuemeka Nwite hails from Borno state ;Abubabar Armed hails from Ebonyi state ;Obong Esin hails from Ekiti state etc.
Believe you me ,these pupils/students that alter their states of Origin in order to gain admission actually understood the vague nature of section 25 of our constitution which confers citizenship on any citizen based on the fact that the parents or grandparents belong or belonged to a community indigenous to Nigeria. It follows that there is no way that their lineage cannot be traceable to the new States they are claiming now.
Why will our students not perform poorly in external examinations?We were still talking about this year's WAEC result before the law school results came out to tell us the true state of the nation. Is there any motivation for studying harder in Nigeria?
Who are the well respected people in our societies today?They are the politicians,the actors and actresses ,the footballers ,the unscrupulous business men and rich men with questionable sources of income. How many professors have been rewarded nationally. Is there any reward for hard work in Nigeria?If medical doctors,lawyers,pharmacists and engineers will find it very difficult to eke out a living in Nigeria,what is the motivation for the young ones to sit down and study?I was jolted last Sunday when three 'jambites' ,my church members, after church service approached me as the youth leader to enquire about the courses they would apply for in next year's JAMB UTME.
Three of them wanted to know the courses to apply for in the JAMB UTME in order to become senator,governor,and speaker of the state house of assembly respectively. I nearly aspirated where I was laughing but while I was laughing they were making wry faces showing that they were really serious. I told them that apart from age they were already qualified for the positions that they mentioned in that even the office of the president which is the highest elective position in the country requires only SSCE or its equivalent according to section 131.
However,on my way home, I started thinking about what might have motivated these 'kids' to have a career in politics and that is where our country is currently heading to as the only people that have not vied for any elective post in this country are the members of the bench(the magistrates,judges,justices) but the way our political business is going,they will soon amend that aspect of the law .The highest career anyone can apply for in Nigeria is political position because that is the only guarantee for connections and emancipation from poverty.
What motivates our students to study harder in this country ?Definitely there is nothing that motivates them to work harder at all . These kids are not blind,they see their parents and elder siblings burn the proverbial midnight candles in the name of studying for examinations and human capital development with nothing to show for it and you want them to sit down and prepare for their SSCE where unemployed university graduates are available to take up examination 'mercenary' jobs?
Many of our Nollywood actors and actresses are school dropouts and today many of our professors, practising in this country, cannot measure up with them in all ramifications in life except in reading which is not regarded in our country. When a pharmacist who suffered to acquire his/her certificate after five horrendous years will end up serving as a drug 'rep' to companies and a sale's lady/boy in the pharmacy shops without any drug manufacturing company for him/her to put into practice what he/she has learnt,just know that the end is not farfetched . Aluko Dangote recently advertised for vacancies for the posts of truck drivers in his company and we are all witnesses of how many master's degree and PhD holders applied for the job,that will tell you the level we have reached in this country.
We will continue in the next series under this subject matter .
Dr Paul John