Injustice and justice differ from one village to another, from one town to another, by ethical injunctions and from one political sovereignty to another. What may seem as unfair or undeserving treatment in one clime might be the beginning of justice and its outcomes in another clime and vis-à-vis. As injustice is the hypothesis of this discourse, we’ll have to draw experience from injustice beyond the interpretation commonly found in Western philosophy and jurisprudence in modern times. Injustice and justice is a susceptible subject to talk about. For instance, if justice is vehemently the practice of fairness in the society by allowing people to get what they want, do we not think people can be given more than they deserve? Against this influence, we must interpret injustice and justice through the periscope of traditions, cultures, and religions predating modern times. We must draw inspiration from laws of different countries. We must interpret injustice and justice through laws that were before and during slavery. We must not undermine such laws and base our argument on the 10 December 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. No. This discourse may not attain the result it was intended to if we base our argument only on human rights. There were other rights before the progenitors of Martins Luther-King Jr. journeyed to the United States of America in the cause of slavery. There were rights that countries observed before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and we must exhume them for posterity.
When the founding fathers of the United States wrote into the Constitutionin 1787, there was a provision that absolutely legalised slavery. When they said that “all men were created equal”, they purposely meant the Americans because they did not see the world beyond the confines of their country, their political interest, religious inclination and economy. If they did take to cognizance that “all men were created equal”, they would not venture into slave trade in the first place. They saw what they did as their right – to overlord themselves over others.
By their Constitution in that period of time, slaves were not seen as people but as objects paramount for labour. A quote was credited to Thomas Jefferson as saying. “Blacks and whites could never coexist in America because of ‘the real distinctions’ which ‘nature’ had made between the two races.” This philosophy by Jefferson which, (without doubt, represented the mindset of founding fathers of America), is what political scientists call Political Injustice. We shall unravel the benefits of Political Injustice in our subsequent lines.
We must consider politics played in different climes, their interest, before we define justice and injustice. This brings to bay Political Injustice. Political scientists say it has great benefits. They believe that “he who has the most guns grabs the most property”. They are not concerned about human rights. They are not talking of a failed state but “he who dies with the most toys, wins.” Those who call the shots in such environment regarded as fiefdom extend their practice beyond their “peons and protégés” they have acknowledged under their authority. They also argue that human rights activists see such environment as a failed state, but decorum and a sense of ‘justice’ prevail in it. Accordingly, the points given here disprove Martin Luther King Jr.’s legendary statement which states that, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Ancient and Modern
Before the political communities we live in today, we once questioned what justice and injustice was (as rational human beings). We again questioned justice and injustice in religious sects, traditions. For instance, at the beginning of Plato’s Republic, Socrates was seen quizzing Cephalos, afterward Polemarchus and lastly Thracymachus about what they profess justice and injustice is. We often preserved judgment of this to either God or Ancestors. While many of the values we inherited from the past inflect the way we act on matters, the context of just and unjust has shifted drastically, taking on a more transnational concept. We can see that in the past atrocities such as genocide, ethnic cleansing, corruption and the killing of women and children in wars were regarded as a taboo. Then-again, as children, we construct our notion of justice and injustice based on the definitions ascribed to these constructs by society and law. Often, people do not keep to the definitions learnt in childhood due to trauma; hence the situation impacts what they define as social order – justice or injustice. This sheds light on the fact that the mind of a child is constructed by the legal system/ethical principles of their upbringing. This environment consolidates their initial view of justice and injustice.
Justice, Injustice and Law
It is essential to state that in the past justice and law were like Siamese Twins. They were synonymous. But there is a drift today: injustice can be supported by law; despite most people claiming that justice is the sole purpose of the law.
Let us believe that the type of justice Martin Luther King Jr. was referring to was the justice that morality brews. In the same vein, the world has had personalities like Plato, Derrida and Socrates who insisted that law should make justice prevail. But what they forgot to understand was that the justice they were fighting for was not embodied in the practice of law. Rather, such justice was indescribable, if not erroneous, and dislocated from the personified practice of law.
Justice is indefinable in law. It is in dispute with law. Lawyers would say that justice may apply to disperse issues or engage technical questions, objectivity to judge or give penalty and reward. In history, law, anthropology and political science, the role of justice is regarded as a political statement.
There are two chief definitions of justice. One relates to criminal activities while the other relates to equality. What may be seen as a crime to the people might not be seen as a crime in law. The same is applicable to equality. In some cultures (with emphasis on Islam) the treatment given to men is not the same as women. They measure justice not on equality but on equivalence. Treatment also differs between a man and woman, a boy and a girl in a Muslim community. For this reason, we cannot say that since there is inequality in Islamic tradition – there is injustice. Most Muslims were comfortable with this and no one, seeing through their lens, would characterise their practice by injustice. In this context, justice and injustice is determined by the law governing a given group and country. Conversely, in the face of injustice, a suspect has the right for a plea bargain in a court (in front of competent jurisdiction). Therefore, what may seem as injustice at a local standpoint is not always enough to convict. Even when a suspect admits guilt in a societal setting, to evade extrajudicial punishment, he or she still remains legally innocent.
Nevertheless, settling a matter out of court is often seen as more important than justice. They call this a win-win situation in law, whereby both prosecutors and defense attorneys’ interests are managed. We can see that in this type of situation, the victims and the community have no place in the world of justice but the suspect has. Prosecutors and defense attorneys are often faced with pressures that lead to a compromise. This brings societal justice as the compromise has guiding principles and rules. There is no special treatment. Here, the law is not evenly and equally applied to all.
Not Evenly and Equally Applied
Analysts would say that governments at all levels are keen to promote social injustice christened as social justice. This is where the interest called political correctness comes to play. Many governments convert this political ideology into law, which ought not to be so. There are suspects that receive special treatment to the peril of private citizens. Now, we have governments all over the world who prefer the gathering of special interests above the law. This is to say that Martin Luther King Jr. and his contemporaries were children of circumstance at the time. Today America allows millions of migrants into her every year and allows them to enjoy welfare.
To the government, this is a way of showing justice to those outside America (in need of coming into the country). But for the taxpayer, it is blatant injustice against the whims and caprices of the American Refugee Act of 1980 which specifies a limit of 50,000 refugees. Some Americans would say, “Executive decisions removed limits.”
Conclusion: The Blind and The Elephant
Proverbially speaking, justice and injustice are like the elephant in the eyes of the blind. The blind can only define an elephant from the side he or she is allowed to touch. Thus, the great Martin Luther King Jr. was a blind man in the definition of justice and injustice without considering social, religious, ethical, traditional, political, economical and sundry differences around the world.
Odimegwu Onwumere is a multiple awards-winning journalist based in Rivers State, Nigeria. He founded ooreporters.com
Some supporters of President Muhammadu Buhari/Osibajo re-election who were said to be in a mass rally dished out the most ridiculous irritant of the century by calling on the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar to step down his presidential ambition in what they characterized by “the intimidating credentials of the current administration of President Buhari”.
This news from Ibadan Saturday, January 12 2019, was not a good one except to those that made the news. One would have swept the irritating comment under the carpet but it would be aplomb to let the President Muhammadu Buhari/Osibajo pretenders erroneously called campaigners to understand the credentials that the President Muhammadu Buhari/Osibajo administration has indeed intimidated Nigerians with before they would call for Atiku’s head.
Just on December 26, 2018, the failure of President Muhammadu Buhari/Osibajo administration was told it on the face by the PDP Presidential Campaign Organization (PPCO). The arm of the PDP orchestrated in no less term that Buhari was seeking a solution in 2018 on how to combat problems of the economy, corruption and insecurity. This was invariably the key promises he made to handle during his electioneering campaigns in 2015. The PPCO therefore concluded that for President Muhammadu Buhari/Osibajo administration to be using the same old campaign aphorisms has shown their acceptance of failure, ineptitude and lack of competence to deliver on promises.
While Nigerians of goodwill had expected Buhari to deliver on promises he made in 2015, was the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, Mallam Garba Shehu on September 19, 2016, telling Nigerians that Mr. President spent about £50,000 as operating cost for his ear treatment in London.
Shehu was disproving a statement made by one Prof. Farooq Kperogi at Bayero University Kano that Buhari spent £6m for that purpose. The Professor had quoted a national paper in a commentary as the cost of Buhari’s trip to London for the ear treatment. Meanwhile, during his 2015 electioneering campaigns, Buhari had endeared Nigerians to supposedly stone any public officials that would go for a medical treatment abroad.
The embittered Professor exposed that no matter the presidency denied the £6m as expenses incurred during Buhari’s medical trip to London, Nigerians should remember that on June 8, 2016, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina — one of the Buhari’s garrulous media aides — actually lied, “The President did not go to London for treatment.”
But Nigerians were latter told Buhari spent “less than £50,000” as his medical bill for ear treatment. However, Buhari, who was clamoured that he had ear impairment known in the medical term as “Meniere’s Disease’’ was shamelessly defended by his aides to the contrary. The mystified Buhari nonetheless confined himself to the State House and canceled three official occasions in which he was represented by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, a testament that showed all was not well with him as at the time.
It could be recalled that “the intimidating credentials” that Buhari had against Atiku was for Osibanjo to represent Buhari in Papua New Guinea where the 8th Summit of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States held. Also, at the 48th Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) which held in Dakar, Senegal, Buhari was represented by Osibanjo.
Buhari also canceled his trip to Lagos State to launch some projects accomplished by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of the state within the period. Well, with their “intimidating credentials”, Adesina had told Nigerians that the president would on June 5 2016 proceed on a 10-day leave, which he would spend in London.
To wash their embarrassment, Adesina told those who cared to listen, that Buhari in the cause of that trip, would see an E.N.T. specialist for a persistent ear infection. Meanwhile, he said that Buhari was (sic) examined by his Personal Physician and an E.N.T. Specialist in Abuja and was treated. Both Nigerian doctors recommended further evaluation purely as a precaution.
The Buhari apologists have been lying themselves to stardom but this is the time to remove the heinous ladder they have been climbing with. The umpteenth time, when the All Progressives Congress (APC) produced Buhari as president in the 2015 presidential election, the party accused the then Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of squandering the country’s resources in overseas treatment of its stakeholders. But the APC sent shame to the winds and sent Buhari on abroad medical trip, something the APC had used against the PDP.
Instantaneously that Buhari confirmed his ear problem as a reality and travelled overseas, Dr. Osahon Enabulele, Vice President, Commonwealth Medical Association (CMA) as at the time, and former President, Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), told the media that the trip was a shame on the nation (despite the presence of over 250 ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists in the country and a National Ear Centre in Kaduna State), given that Enabulele had undergone surgical operation for his ear infection in Nigeria, that year, and it was successful.
Enabulele contended in an open letter to the president, saying, “I am very constrained to state that this foreign medical trip flies in the face of the federal government’s earlier declaration of her resolve to halt the embarrassing phenomenon of outward medical tourism, which by the end of the year 2013, has led to a humongous capital flight of about $1 billion, particularly from expenses incurred by political and public office holders and their accompanying aides, whose foreign medical trips, most of which are unnecessary, were financed with tax payers’ resources.”
Further, the medical expert believed that the presidency was yet to tell Nigerians the truth pertaining to why Buhari travelled to London given that the former Governor of Kogi State, Idris Wada, patronized Nigerian-trained medical experts and medical facilities here in Nigeria when he unfortunately suffered a fractured femur following a road traffic accident in 2013, hence there was no reason in 2016, for Buhari not to had stayed back in Nigeria to attend to his ear infection.
It was then Nigerians realized through a public commentator that just for an ear infection, Nigeria’s president travelled all the way to London to get expert treatment and a second opinion. Shame on Nigeria! (sic). And this ear infection explained all the loud cries and groans of the common people suffering from their day to day challenges. Meanwhile, a memo which Atiku sent to the 2014 National Conference and still stands on it till date suggests as follows inter alia:
A major reason why Nigeria is not working is the way we have structured our country and governance, especially since the emergence of military rule in 1966. We can agree that the federal government is too big, too rich, and too strong relative to the federating states. We can agree that there is too much centralisation of resources and concentration of power at the federal level.
Nigerians would not have been calling for a National Conference, sovereign or not, if we were meeting our people’s basic needs, including food, shelter, education, security, energy, and transportation infrastructure, if we were putting the country on the right path and every segment of the country feels equitably treated. And we would unlikely see people describing as a mistake the amalgamation of the northern and southern parts of Nigeria 100 years ago.
For those who parade Buhari’s “intimidating credentials”, Prof. Kperogi asked, “Can anybody in good conscience defend the action of a president who allocated N4 billion to Aso Rock Clinic (which is more than the budget of all Nigerian teaching hospitals combined) but goes abroad to treat an ear infection less than a month after he banned government officials from traveling abroad for medical treatment? Let’s not allow our emotions to get the better of our judgment! Only unreflective Buhari apologists assume the falsity of the Vanguard report (of £6m), without any shred of contrary evidence other than a facile, reactive denial.”
Odimegwu Onwumere writes from Rivers State. Tel: +2348057778358. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nigerian political terrain is taking a new dimension with propaganda and lies being hyped by politicians as February elections are on the way.
The purpose for this is to lure electorate to vote their candidates.
There were incidences where one political party cajoled the other for the rationale of marketing their party to the masses and vis-à-vis.
Whereas in marketing, marketers use authentic proof to convince their prospective buyers, this is not the case with politicians.
Politicians advertise their political parties/candidates with the sole aim of selling their idea to the people which invariable is not what is on their mind.
Their type of propaganda is misleading. What is known as political propaganda in the civilised climes is not obtainable in Nigerian politics.
In the civilised world, propaganda is not a blackmail campaign to misinform the electorates. Propaganda is formed through psychology to woo the emotions of the people. And this is done by the use of descriptions, catchphrase and rarely, use of discriminatory statements.
Sadly, the objectivity politicians use propaganda in Nigeria is to hide truth from the governed. The irony is that politicians succeed in this even when a large proportion of the media is not owned by them. Even where few of them own some media houses, they are not solely for the purpose of politics. It calls for sober reflection how they succeed to sell their propaganda.
It is invariably disappointing that politicians use propaganda but can’t sieve rumours from it. Hence, they create negative impression about themselves. They forgot that this is democracy where people were expected to be civil. They rather operate like soldiers in the war-front who use propaganda to invigorate hope in the combatants against their rival.
Since they say that anything in war is fair and just, soldiers can raise flags branding their enemies as children killers or heinous things that are against rule of war. This shouldn’t be of democrats!
This concept of soldiers in the war-front is without a doubt what Nigerian politicians have been towing; behaving like drug galvanized soldiers in war.
Without a doubt, politicians, corporations, non-profits in civilised countries use something very close to propaganda to market their aim, different from the blatant lies that deafen ears that emanate from Nigerian politicians.
It is therefore time that these politicians stopped using propaganda because Nigerians are wiser today. They should understand that derogatory name-calling used in the politics here, instead it would spur the electorates, it brings negative consequences on politicians.