No Development and National Integration Without Social Justice

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Dr Anthony Idigbe, has said there can be no development and national integration without social justice. He said national integration is crucial for the stability and prosperity of any country, and requires the coming together of ethnic, linguistic, religious and regional groups to promote unity and cohesiveness.

He said everyone has a role in upholding national integration, adding that decisive action begins with the citizens.

Idigbe, Senior Partner at the law firm of Punuka Attorneys and Solicitors, stated this in a convocation lecture he delivered at the Christopher University, Mowe, Ogun State, during the institution’s First, Second and Third Convocation ceremony at the weekend.

Its theme was “Social Re-engineering, Justice, Ethical Reorientation as Panacea for Nigeria’s Quest for National Integration”.

The Senior Advocate noted that social inequality results, where sections of the society are left behind.

He said: “Achieving social justice is essential for national integration, as it ensures that all members of the society feel they are being treated fairly and with respect.

“There must be an enthronement of the rule of law, and a constitutional arrangement that does not perpetuate inequalities and injustice. These are sine qua nons for national integration.”

Idigbe emphasised that it behooved citizens to make national integration a reality, while advocating for more of what he called “norm entrepreneurs”.

He said: “We are ultimately responsible for developing our country, Nigeria. As with the digital transformation of businesses, innovation in social re-engineering, justice and ethical reorientation towards national integration need not come from politicians and government.

“It can come from the people as norm entrepreneurs working individually and collaboratively to generate and cascade the norms, by the socialisation of a critical mass of norm leaders who will then socialise the rest of the population into adopting and internalising the norms.

“There is a glimmer of hope, even from our recent experiences. Any observer would have noticed that a phenomenon with no structure transformed into some system, and a political tsunami swept through many places.

“The young norm entrepreneurs made their voices heard. They confirmed that everyone matters, and that you do not need a structure to make an impact. The democratisation of the media, enables norm entrepreneurs to circumvent structures.

“We should stop blaming others, whether imperialists, their local collaborators or our weak leaders”, he said.

Idigbe urged Nigerians at all levels, and as “the salt of the earth”, to preserve values that would prosper the entire nation, not sectionally or individually.

He added: “Nigerians must also use their positions and influence, to get their government to allocate more resources to address the needs of forgotten and marginalised portions of the society.

“Nigerians must focus on building common and shared grounds for national integration and development through social justice, reorientation and re-engineering.”

The Senior Advocate said he was involved in the case of Ukeje v Ukeje that lasted for 34 years, from the High Court to the Supreme Court. It was a case where a female child was excluded from inheriting from her father’s estate. Though he won the case at the Supreme Court, he said getting the Plaintiff’s fair share has been difficult.

Idigbe praised Christopher University for making great strides towards becoming “the premier business school, national management powerhouse, and centre of excellence in the West Africa region”.

He admonished the graduands to be change makers, saying: “You are the next generation of leaders, the salt of Nigeria and the products of this great University – the first focused management University.

“As you leave this citadel into the world, you must deliberately pursue change wherever you find yourself, using the skills, values and norms imbued here.”

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