“There can be no development and national integration without social justice; 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.”
These were the words of a legal luminary, Dr Anthony Idigbe (SAN), a Senior Partner at the law firm of Punuka Attorneys and Solicitors, 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.
Idigbe, in the lecture, themed, ‘Social re-engineering, justice, ethical re-orientation as a panacea for Nigeria’s quest for national integration,’ said everyone has a role in upholding national integration, adding that decisive action begins with the citizens.
He noted that social inequality results when sections of the society are left behind, adding that “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,” he said.
Idigbe emphasised that it behoved citizens to make national integration a reality while advocating for more of what he called “norm entrepreneurs,” reiterating that “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 urges Nigerians, at all levels, and as “the salt of the earth”, to preserve values that would prosper the entire nation, not sectionally of individually.
According to him, the norm entrepreneurs can help achieve national integration and could arise from the effort of the respected elite, opinion leaders and intellectuals, or grow organically from the masses of society as they occasionally respond to issues.
“If our norm entrepreneurs succeed, we will solve the problems of ethnicity, nepotism, corruption, religious intolerance, insecurity, unemployment, rural-urban migration, poverty, crime and hunger,” the SAN said.