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CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS ON POWERS AND AUTHORITY; SECURITY AND WELFARE; AND PARTICIPATION IN GOVERNMENT IN NIGERIA.

November 9, 2013

The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Chapter 2, makes pronouncements on the “Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy”. Extracts of some sections read as follows:
“13. It shall be the duty and responsibility of all organs of government, and of all authorities and persons, exercising legislative, executive or judicial powers, to conform to, observe and apply the provisions of this Chapter of this Constitution.
14. (1) The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a State based on the principles of democracy and social justice.
(2) It is hereby, accordingly, declared that:
(a) sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this Constitution derives all its powers and authority;
(b) the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government: and
(c) the participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.”

The main keywords in the above sections are:
– “..social justice.”, which is variously defined as, the fair and proper administration of laws conforming to the natural law that all persons, irrespective of ethnic origin, gender, possessions, race, religion, etc., are to be treated equally and without prejudice.
– “..sovereignty belongs to the people..”. Sovereignty rest will all, not the elected politicians only, so they MUST submit to the wishes and aspirations of the people.
– “..government through this Constitution derives all its powers and authority..”. The elected politicians MUST submit to the constitution in the discharge of their elected duties, and not to make laws that protect themselves only.
– “..security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”. The government should be deemed as having failed Nigerians, not the contribution by ordinary individuals, if the security and welfare of the people cannot be guaranteed.
– “..the participation by the people in their government shall be ensured”. In every society, there are the leaders and the led. For all to participate fully in government, all our voices MUST be heard, not just those of government mouthpieces and advisers. A critique of government policies and programmes by critics, social and political commentators etc, is one way of participating in government. “The greatest threat to freedom is the absence of criticism.” – Wole Soyinka.
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