Over the years, depending on how they have managed to manipulate the system to their advantage, Nigeria’s political and economic elites have maintained a dismissive relationship with the rule of law. Although the laws of the country provide that every Nigerian should be treated fairly regardless of age, social origin, religion or ethnic group, the vast majority of Nigerians are well aware of the limited options available to them. to the temple of justice because of their economic conditions and social status. Recently, the federal government, in an incident that once again raised the issue of elitism and the rule of law, pledged to sanction oil and gas companies that fail to comply with related to human capacity development contained in the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act (NOGICD) 2010.
Delivering a keynote address during the second edition of the Virtual Stakeholder Workshop on Human Capacity Development in the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Simbi Wabote, warned that the board would enforce forensic audits for HCD programs and that companies that violated the NOGICD Act and ministerial regulations in carrying out costly capacity development initiatives, as mandated by law, would be sanctioned. Apparently some big players in the industry, made possible by the lack of consequences for violations and rule breakers, hadn’t bothered to obey the laws.
In another development, experts working with Nextier, a leading political think tank, recently postulated that the intense power struggle among the Nigerian elite ahead of the 2023 general election has the potential to accentuate trends. conflicts, especially given the poor response of security agencies to emergencies and distress calls. Experts said the elites’ desperation had fueled widespread fears that violent cases, including killings, could escalate. In fact, the events that led to the election of candidates for various political offices showed an apparent disregard not only for the rule of law, but for Nigerian society itself. Party nomination forms became the exclusive domain of the wealthy through prohibitively expensive nomination forms, while the so-called primaries held by major political parties were nothing but a bazaar. It is clear that, like previous elections, the general elections of 2023 will be about elites and the preservation of their interests.
A painful indication of the anarchy of the elites in the country is the way most cases involving them drag on. With power and privilege at their disposal, the “great men” and women of Nigeria, as they are called, tend to hide under the niceties of the law to delay business at will. They do everything they can to subvert justice by causing the prosecution to fail. There have been instances of them arbitrarily skipping bail, and the fact is well established that they have a habit of faking illnesses and disregarding court orders, taking advantage of the moral laxity of the legal system to paint a picture of a country where the big and the powerful can do nothing. Wrong. Worse still, the government that is supposed to clip its wings by strictly enforcing the laws of the land is tainted by the same brush of anarchy. For example, the Muhammadu Buhari administration, which took office in 2015 promising to change the dire situation in the country, has earned a reputation for disregarding court rulings, disregarding the judiciary and the state of right. The government is also quite tolerant of corruption, as exemplified by the recent clemency granted to Reverend Jolly Nyame and Senator Joshua Dariye, two former governors serving their sentences following their convictions for massive corruption.
The popular maxim is that “we are all equal before the law”, but the Nigerian elite does not believe in the rule of law. Or rather, they believe in the rule of law only insofar as it preserves their privileges. For good measure, members of the elite tend to rally around each other whenever they are in crisis. They are looking for what has become known as a “soft landing” for each other. Their politics are anarchic, unpredictable and violent, leaving absolutely no room for the advancement of democratic principles. They get justice very easily and hunt down opponents with ferocity. It is the Nigerian elite who, in their anarchic struggle for power, have created the so-called unknown gunmen who have made life a nightmare for the people of the South East. It’s instructive that many of the elite were consumed by the monsters they created, getting their tragic reward at the most unexpected times. In case they missed the point, it is therefore in their own enlightened interest to take note of developments in the country and their consequences, and to promote the rule of law as a safeguard. They can’t survive too long without a hedge, and that hedge is the rule of law.
If people know that the law applies equally to everyone, they won’t feel threatened. They will gladly obey the law.
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