By Anne Alagbe
The idea of social justice continues to be far-reaching especially in a country like Nigeria. We still grapple with fair treatment and advocating for equality seems to be daunting. There is a component of social injustice at every level in the country.
Unemployment in Nigeria remains at a staggering high of 23.10%. The roads are dotted with street sellers, trying to sell anything they can from groundnuts to crossword books for children. Okada bikers and Keke drivers recklessly put themselves at risk while facing the brutality of the roads in order to earn a living for themselves and their families. Then, there are the saleswomen who wake up early to sell their merchandise in the markets persistently negotiating prices with their customers in order to provide money to feed their children. One may wonder where justice is in such a broken system. A system which benefits the rich and consistently puts the poor at a disadvantage.
The theme of this year’s Social Justice Day is ‘Closing The Inequalities Gap To Achieve Social Justice’. It may appear impossible a task to achieve here in Nigeria with all the chaos taking place, the hundreds if not thousands of people in the towns of Lagos who have now been rendered jobless due to the ban of Keke and Okada bikes– a strong avenue for crime and other atrocities to thrive, if you ask me. With actions like this, one may wonder if Nigeria can boldly speak of Social Justice for all.
According to an article written by the UN, ‘Social Justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations.’ The truth is, in order to truly achieve this ‘peaceful’ and ‘prosperous coexistence’ in the country, much more than empty government promises, citizens need to be prioritised more than selfish interests. There must be a complete and utter revamping of a system which has consistently been broken, alongside the reprogramming of a mindset that can ensure people begin to trust the leaders.
Social Justice Day advocates for poverty eradication and fair treatment in employment and support for social integration. This is a goal that we should thrive to achieve, however, with the statistics showing that one in five workers still live in moderate or extreme poverty coupled with stagnant wages and gender inequality, socio-economic growth is hindered greatly.
Despite the disorder which is currently taking place and how uncertain things may look, Social Justice can be achieved if tackled with a sense of urgency and a determination to completely transform the status quo. One of the main ways to achieve this is ensuring citizens are able to access basic human facilities such as clean potable water, decent healthcare facilities, good quality education for all, well-paid jobs made available amongst many others. Corruption from the top being state governments not using the full funds that they were received to fulfil the needs of its citizens, corruption of policemen and army officials waving their guns around at drivers whilst coarsely asking for money, and may God help the unfortunate soul who refuses to pull out a few hundred Naira’– all must be frowned against and tackled.
We will truly be able to advance Social Justice once all barriers, including tribalism, ethnicity and religious discriminations are obliterated, promoting a wholesome society where everyone has an equal opportunity and an equal right to succeed.