The major aim of any organized society is the preservation of peace and order. From time immemorial, when anarchy, chaos, confusion and disorder had been the order of the day, societies thrived on lawlessness. With the advent of civility and civilisation, it became paramount and important to lay down an instrument to safeguard the existence of a society where everyone is equal, irrespective of the status, age and position that may have been acquired by certain persons in the society to prevent arbitrariness.
This instrument laid down is the law guiding the conduct and individual behaviour in the society. In a developing country like Nigeria, the law has to be properly utilised to ensure effectiveness and transformation of the Nigerian society and polity.
The Law has so many roles to play in transformation and social engineering in Nigeria. One of these roles is the preservation of peace and order. The law has a crucial role to play in ensuring the peace, order and progress of the society is maintained and strengthened. Relevant laws, like the Police Act, are being passed by the National Assembly to ensure the preservation of Fundamental Human Rights and quick apprehension of offenders and criminals to ensure the reign of peace and justice in the Nigerian State.
The fight against corruption has been one of the crucial ‘wars’ waged against the menace of pilfering public wealth in Nigeria. The menace of corruption has been one of the ‘parasites’ hindering economic growth and development.
If law is used to combat this menace, corruption and impunity would likely be a thing of the past as the law would stipulate adequate measures in cleaning the mess of having public officers engaging in theft, corruption and privatisation of public resource which in turn leads to a moribund economy and this would further enhance economic development and growth.
The law is also an instrument for transforming Nigeria’s polity as lawyers, who are fondly referred to as “officers in temple of justice”, would go a long way in impacting progress into the society as the principles of fairness and justice instilled in them would guide them as products of Law and the legal profession in delivering their best in the progress and development of the nation.
Lawyers, if given the chance and opportunity to rule, would be accountable as they know the laws of the land and know the penalties to be meted out to offenders if the laws are breached.
Law as an agent of transformation would go a long way in the peaceful resolution of strifes and disputes in Nigeria. This would be possible through the instruments of the judicial system i.e courts. These courts would go along way in improving the dispensation of justice. Also, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), especially through Arbitration, would go a long way in solving the problem of societal disorder, chaos and confusion as disputes which could lead to disagreements, arguments, and wars would be forgone as the courts would ensure the peaceful settlement of disputes in the transformation of Nigeria.
However, Law has its own loopholes or lacunas. Corruption in the legal and judicial system, non implementation of laws and bills passed by the Legislature, the “get-rich-quick” mentality among lawyers and judges, slow judgement decisions which is a clog in the wheels of justice and using the law as instruments of fraud are clear indications and pointers to the problems of the law.
If these issues are “arrested” with honesty, integrity, commitment and dedication of legal officers to duty, the Augean table would be cleaned and it would serve as a means of cleansing the stains of the legal profession and making it a standard and effective tool for the transformation of the Nigerian State and its polity.
Undoubtedly, Nigeria has reached a stage of national re-awakening. Although, it is clear that Law is a mechanism through which the society can be changed, it is the duty of lawyers, lawmakers, Law courts and law enforcement agencies to moving the mechanism of Law into motion. If the law is properly used as an instrument and tool of national transformation and cohesion, it is sure that progress would be achieved in all endeavours embarked upon by Nigeria as a nation which would surely place us on the spot we deserved to be.