RIGHTS CONTAINED IN CHAPTER 2 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA: NATURE AND SCOPE
Chapter 2 of the Constitution comprises of Sections 13-26 and is titled “Fundamental Objectives and Directives and Directives Principles of State Policy”.
In order to fully appreciate the import of the provisions of this Chapter, it is essential to note the wording of the opening section, Section 13, which provides that
“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 constitution.”
This therefore translates that the Sections contained in the Chapter are to serve as the duties of the government and guiding rules to ensure that natural justice is upheld and citizen welfare is prioritized. It also states that Nigeria shall be a State based on the principles of democracy and social justice with sovereignty belonging to the people and participation in government being highly encouraged.
Section 16 (1)(a) further outlines the need to harness the nation’s resources and foster national prosperity by establishing a dynamic and self-sufficient economy whilst advocating for the management of the national economy in a manner that ensures the utmost welfare, liberty, and contentment of each citizen while upholding principles of social justice and equality in both status and opportunities.
It is stipulated that the State should steer its policies to achieve the following objectives:
(a) Promoting a planned and well-balanced economic development.
(b) Ensuring that the nation’s material resources are efficiently harnessed and distributed for the collective benefit.
(c) Preventing the operation of the economic system in a way that leads to the concentration of wealth or control over the means of production and exchange in the hands of a select few individuals or groups.
(d) Providing all citizens with appropriate and adequate housing, food, a reasonable national minimum wage, elderly care, pensions, as well as support for the unemployed, sick, and disabled.
Section 17 provides that the State order is based on principles of Freedom, equality and justice. It is emphatic in stating that equality of rights should be upheld and any exploration that is against the welfare and development of the society should be avoided.
Interestingly, Section 17 further provides that “conditions of work are just and humane, and that there are adequate facilities for leisure and for social, religious and cultural life.”
Section 18 focuses on education and directs that:
“Government shall strive to eradicate illiteracy, and to this end, Government shall as and when practicable provide-
a. free, compulsory and universal primary education;
b. free secondary education;
c. free university education; and
d. free adult literacy programme.
Section 19 on Foreign Policy provides that foreign Policy shall be for
a. the promotion and protection of the national interest;
b. promotion of African integration and support for African unity;
c. promotion of international cooperation for the consolidation of universal peace and mutual respect among all nations and elimination of discrimination in all its manifestations;
d. respect for international law and treaty obligations as well as the seeking of settlement of international disputes by negotiation, mediation, conciliation, arbitration and adjudication; and
e. promotion of a just world economic order.
Section 20 provides environmental Objectives, Section 21 provides directives regarding Nigerian cultures, Section 22 elaborates on the responsibilities of the mass media, and Section 23 pertains to the establishment of national ethics.
Indeed, these provisions hold great appeal and significance as they are crucial for transforming the envisioned Nigeria we long for into a tangible reality. Regrettably, these objectives and rights within the chapter are wholly unenforceable and non-justiciable meaning they cannot be legally upheld or enforced.