Editor's note: Communications officer for Connected Development, Kevwe Oghide writes on why it is important for the Nigerian government and Nigerians as a whole not to lose focus of social justice and fairness at all levels even as the country elects new sets of leaders in the just concluded Presidential and National Assembly elections.
As Nigerians await results of the Presidential and national house of assembly elections, it is important that we do not lose focus of social justice and fairness at all level. The declaration of fairness at work by the International Labour Organisation addresses fair outcomes for all through employment, social protection, social dialogue and fundamental principles and rights at work.
Fairness at work is about obtaining freedom, equity, security and human dignity in conditions of work. It stands against inequality and discrimination - allowing for a work environment that thrives on productivity, having a voice in the workplace and the community. Fairness and rights at work also rides on gender equality, resolving issues around balancing work and family life, enabling women to make choices and take control of their lives.
In some extreme cases, fairness at work is about moving from subsistence to existence. Having a job, does not guarantee decent living. Not to address the disheartening rate of unemployment in Nigeria, there is a high percentage of employed persons who still cannot afford basic needs. Many people are taking up menial jobs that are characterized with low pay, poor working conditions, health and safety hazards and poor access to social protection system. This percentage of people are experiencing a lack of material well-being, economic security, equal opportunities and basic human security.
In Nigeria today, there is a huge deficit expressed in the absence of employment opportunities, denial of fairness at work and inadequate social protection. Many Nigerians are appalled by the country’s position as a top leader in the number of people living in extreme poverty. Massive voters’ turnout is largely due to the desire to secure a better Nigeria. We are seeking change in the areas of social justice, economic opportunity, welfare upgrade, environmental protection, health benefits and an overall improved standard of living of the average Nigerian. Although, there have been recounts of violence in some polling units across the country, people are boldly pushing back, reasserting themselves, regardless of threats and intimidations. What we are witnessing now appears to be a powerful flash of resilience and patriotism.
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Also, in the pursuit of social justice, older generation are working to securing the future of their children. Child labour, in its worst form, robs a child of their education, their health, their future and even their lives. Children in rural communities are often marginalized when it comes to getting basic education. Government officials charged with implementing schools and healthcare projects in these communities often embezzle funds, widening the gap between rural and urban children, and further depriving rural children of their right to education, as well as work with higher pay, in the future.
In addressing social justice in this context, Connected Development’s Follow The Money initiative is empowering rural communities with data and accessible technology to track government spending on education, health, water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructure, so rural dwellers can hold governments at national and sub-national levels accountable, ensuring improved service delivery.
Good governance allows for the creation of quality jobs, better job opportunities, leading to better incomes and an improved standard of living of the average person. It also allows for a system where children have the opportunity to receive basic education. The ripple effect is evident in more unified and equitable societies that are important to preventing violence and conflicts.
As votes are being collated across the nation, this is a moment of reflection, but also a renewed fire in our hearts, as we begin to assess the need to hold government accountable, demanding that they do better in ensuring social welfare of the average Nigerian. Young people, especially, must recognise that they are the key to future elections and the antidote to whatever fear, hatred and intolerance may lie ahead.
The aspiration for social justice, through which every working man and woman can claim freely and on the basis of equality of opportunity, their fair share of the wealth which they have helped to generate, is quite strong in recent times. CODE is convinced that no lasting peace is assured without an egalitarian system and will keep working with partners to support and promote social justice, one community at a time.
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