By Abiodun Akinbule
Law is a reflection of a divine order consistent with fundamental value and good of the entire state. It modifies the nature of our existence and restricts us to morality. Rule of law is equal to a situation where both the government and the individuals are bound by the law and comply with it. It is the opposite of tyranny. Herein reflect the basic human rights of individuals which clearly stated that “all men were born free and equal and the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are among those rights that are unalienable.” To secure those rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their powers from the consent of the governed.
View from moral prism, the law should be good for the community. It should be just, and preserve the happiness and safety of the citizens. Law is the only thing consistent with justice and reigns supreme in any democratic polity. A rule under the law prevents corruption and abuse arising when power is concentrated in an individual. Where laws have no authority, there is no constitution. According to Aristotle, man is a noblest animal; separated from law and justice, he is the worst.
Justice is expressed in rights and duties. Justice ensures the stability of society, as well as wholesome economic and cultural relations between people. In Nigeria, democracy is practised on the pages of the newspaper and television networks. Everything is now more important than rule of law in our polity these days. Why should we behave like someone who rejected sun for a candle?
Delineating the essence of statehood and arbitrarily stating which comes first and which to obey baffled me. If security is paramount because of clear and present dangers, does it remove the essences of engagement? Someone should help me tell our leaders that laws were originally made for the security of the people, for the preservation of the state and for the peace and happiness of society?
Rule of law brings justice and justice ensures equity, equity brings peace, and peace brings security. But today, security has become an excuse for every nonsense behaviour in our polity. These and many unfortunate statements always come from the misguided and analogue-minded individuals we call leaders when they are about to take some unreasonable actions. Getting security architecture right without obeying the rule of law is a nightmare, wrapped in a clownish show. The law is the custodian of everyone in the country, including the president. If you believe that the constitution should not be enforced, then amending it won’t make any difference.
The complexity of discerning democratic ideals can be quite daunting. Even in the scripture, obedience of the law supersedes sacrifice. Any nation where the law is subjected to some other authorities and has none of its own, that nation will end up a laughing stock. And to achieve freedom, peace, and harmony in our land, the rule of law must take precedence over any self interests. When you choose the orders to obey as a leader, it means you are not ready to allow the system to function. The way to perdition is impunity. It’s an intoxicating narcotic. Once a leader is addicted to it, the nation is doomed.
What should we say to these? Those who by law ascended the throne but on getting there say the law is a burden to the throne. For those whose trophy or plague is made of their victims’ coffins, they will perpetually live in fear of ghost.
By nature, human hates oppression but loves to oppress. The colonial masters oppressed and our fathers complained. Now, the oppressed got independence and oppression is now worse. The future is not just dark, but forlorn. It will take generations to fumigate the land back to productive normalcy when the vultures would have finished their own clean up. It gets clearer every day that we live in a lawless society divided between prey and the predator.
Self-deceit, nepotism, corruption, greed and tribalism, unnecessary ego, eye service and other vices are natural diseases of an average African man. In a country where rules are scorned and personal rights take precedence over all else, how will I teach my children that some things are worth fighting for?
Greed is the religion of the political class in Nigeria. And a nation based on greed will never survive morally, economically, and politically. Greedy and visionless individuals will hide behind weak electoral system to win elections. They get into system backed by weak and corrupted constitution to rule over timid and gullible populace who will rather pray to God than ask for good governance. Many of our political leaders have clearly demonstrated that they don’t care about the problems of the people and are consumed with hatred and the accumulation of political power.
The giant of Africa is now under the whims of lazy boots who will never think how to create a secured environment to generate wealth (because in peace, there is prosperity) but only wake up to tax the lives out of the citizens. The corridor of power is now filled with people rabidly seeking money and power hoping to one day own society. But this is forlorn because society is not designed to be owned by any individual and that’s why you will see leaders ever make it to the position of power twisting laws to suit their narratives. We belong to society and we are part of it. It defines us and we must learn to share and contribute to it.
Only a robust democracies governed by the rule of law where everyone obeys court orders and operates under the spirit of constitution can prosper and promise us a better future. Genuine development of a people and society in any democratic dispensation is not about the construction of roads or railway lines. For slaves, these are modes of transporting them to their slave camps. True development of people begins with their freedom, dignity, equity, justice, and equitable distribution of the vast resources among the populace.
Nigeria has gone through a lot, with the structural violence prevalent in the country aided by poor leadership, bad policies and weak institutions. I am sure Nigeria will not want to take another dose of anarchy. Law is not a mere regulation. Without law, we are lawless. By law, citizens are free to operate as they wish provided their actions are not prohibited by law. Shelving the rules of law will only cause anarchy among the populace.
Akinbule sent this piece via firstname.lastname@example.org