Social Movement And Quest For Social Justice In Nigeria

Project and Seminar material for Public Administration

Social Movement And Quest For Social Justice In Nigeria


The historical development of anti-discriminatory practice can be traced to sets of influences both within and outside social work itself. One such external factor was clearly the role played by social movements. That is, the push from various pressure groups and related cultural formations can be seen to have played a role in challenging traditional approaches to social work and destabilizing the psychodynamic, individually oriented paradigm which held sway for many years. This study explores how the development of new social movements played a part in laying those foundations, giving a much higher level of attention to the pursuit of social justice and thereby throwing the inherent social work tensions between care and control into sharp relief. Specifically, this study investigated social movement and quest for social justice in Nigeria vis determining the nature and causes of social conflicts in Nigeria, examining the role of social movement in achieving social justice in Nigeria, and determining the paths to the reconciliation and restoration of social justice and national integration in Nigeria.


Table of Content

Chapter One

1.0 Introduction

  • 1.1 Background of the Study
  • 1.2 Statement of Problem
  • 1.3 Research Objectives
  • 1.4 Research Questions
  • 1.5 Research Hypothesis
  • 1.6 Significance of the Study
  • 1.7 Definition of Terms
  • 1.8 Organization of the Study

Chapter Two

2.0 Literature Review

  • 2.1 Conceptual Framework
  • 2.2 Concept of Social Movement
  • 2.3 Stages of the Development of a Social Movement
  • 2.4 Types of Social Movement Organizations
  • 2.4.1 Professional Movement Organizations
  • 2.4.2 Mass Protest Organizations
  • 2.4.3 Grassroots Organizations
  • 2.5 Modus Operandi of Professional Social Movements Within the Nigerian Society
  • 2.6 The Concept of Justice
  • 2.7 The Principle of Social Justice
  • 2.8 Theoretical Framework
  • 2.8.1 Mass Society Theory
  • 2.8.2 Relative Deprivation Theory

Chapter Three

3.0 Research Methodology

  • 3.1 Research Design
  • 3.2 Data Collection
  • 3.3 Data Analysis

Chapter Four

4.0 Results and Discussion

  • 4.1 Analysis of Social Conflicts In Nigeria
  • 4.2 Resource Control and the Entrenchment of Marginalization in Nigeria
  • 4.3 The Political Economy of State Power and Resource Control in Nigeria
  • 4.4 Social Movement and Social Justice

Chapter Five

5.0 Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations

  • 5.1 Summary
  • 5.2 Conclusion
  • 5.3 Recommendations
  • References

Chapter One

1.0 Introduction

1.1 Background of the Study

The propensity for human differences, disputes and disagreements to degenerate into deep and enduring conflict and violence are very clear indications that all is not well within the country. It draws attention to a crisis of social order and the problem of resource management. More so, it reveals that Nigeria in the current dispensation has not fully articulated the crucial concepts necessary for establishing a truly humane, civil and harmonious society. Thus central to the problem of social conflicts is the perverted understanding of the meanings of social order, social justice, and national security. Subsequent analysis of the dimensions of social conflicts in Nigeria will demonstrate this point. Given the endemic conflicts plaguing the Nigerian society, there is a need to examine the conditions of social justice and the factors necessary for promoting genuine social reconciliation and national reconstruction.
The significance of this problem is seen not only in the fact that states have historically been concerned with issues concerning conflict management and security (Sesay 1998, p.43), but that many societies around the world today, are faced with all forms of social conflicts. Social conflicts in Africa have assumed life threatening dimensions, leading to either armed conflict, civil war or strife (Muthoni 2000, p.3). Nigeria is just one of the examples of the myriad of African nations beset or afflicted by conflicts, which have led to extensive human suffering, poverty, instability and insecurity.

Justice is one of the oldest concepts in existence, and also an essential feature for ensuring a stable society. Justice is not only real and an objective concept, but also rooted in the nature of man and society (Waterfield, 1984; Sen, 1996). According to Rawls (1973), justice occupies a central place in the basic structure of society, and exerts significant influence on the individual, as well as a groups‟ life‟s prospects, desires, aspirations and self-esteem; the effect which is present at birth and continues throughout the individual and groups‟ lifetime. Because people have no control or power over where they are to be located in life and since justice is a characteristic of society, it behooves on the State or major social institutions of the society to determine how to distribute rights and duties, benefits and burdens that may arise from social cooperation.

Although the concept of justice has several times been described as an expression of right (Nozick, 2001; Mill, 1991); as equality for all people (Dworkin, 1981; Baker, 2001); as equity and fairness among unequal groups (Rawls,1973; Irele, 1998); and as compensation and rectification of historical injustice for deprived groups (Nozick, 2001),nevertheless, justice can be described as a concept that commands the maintenance of relevant equalities and the eradication of unjustified inequalities (Brandt, 1962; Sampson, 1975; Kane, 1996; Baker, 2001); and in another sense, justice, requires that public policies actively compensate for disadvantages and deprivation that some members or groups of people in the society may suffer or might have suffered.

It is an inevitable fact that in every society, inequality of birth, historical circumstances and natural endowment among groups exist. These forms of inequality affect individuals as well as groups‟ initial chances and potential for growth and development of which ethnic minorities of the Niger Delta region in Nigeria are victims (Rawls, 1973). Historically and sociologically, ethnic minorities are groups that occupy a subordinate position either in status or number to a dominant majority ethnic group with the power to control state apparatus (Thornbery, 1980). Given the one-sided relation between minority and majority groups, it behoves on the State or society to devise “corrective measures” to ameliorate the consequences of inequality and address allegations of injustice among people and groups in a society. It is in this sense that the application of justice becomes expedient.

1.2 Statement of Problem

The perceived inequitable distribution of socio-economic amenities and the persistent agitations for justice remains a perennial feature of Nigeria’s political history, and has been of increasing concern to the economic growth and political stability of the State. Thus, this study is informed by the following problems. First, the influence of colonialism cannot be overlooked in the emergence of ethnic group formations, and the persistent ethnic protests and agitations for recognition by ethnic minorities in Nigeria. The colonial regionalization of Nigeria into three dominant regions of Hausa/Fulani group to the North, Igbo group to the East and Yoruba group to the West, and the classification and perceived marginalization of other groups as „minorities‟ have continued to influence violent agitations for recognition and justice. The centralization of the country’s economy, the concomitant structural imbalances and deep inequality between the majority and minority ethnic groups, and the fear of domination have further created a conflict-ridden political system militating against a harmonious relationship and sustainable development. Put in another way, mutual distrust, competition for scarce resources, discriminatory government policies, conflict over distribution of resources and unjustified inequality have become increasingly rampant between the State (led by ethnic majority groups) and minority groups in Nigeria. In consequence and in the quest for justice, ethnic minorities within the regions began to emerge in ethnic formations and socio-political organization to demand for separate regions of their own which will cater for their interest and to counter the politics of marginalization and domination as practiced by ethnic majority groups. This has been one of the major sources for persistent ethnic minority demands and agitation for social justice in Nigeria.

Lastly, the problem of loose essence and interpretation of the principles of justice in terms of population size, ethnic and religious inclination, and also the determinant of economic resources available from a particular region, as a means of revenue allocation has continued to characterize persistent ethnic protest and demand for social justice by ethnic minorities in Nigeria. These are contrary standards to the distributional principles of fairness, equality and equity, and have made difficult the application of the appropriate justice system for Nigeria’s heterogeneous state; thus, the persistent ethnic struggles (Rawls, 1973; Nwabueze, 1993; Nozick, 2001). There is need to revisit these principles to prevent continuous agitations in the region. This study therefore seeks to investigate social movement and quest for social justice in Nigeria

1.3 Research Objectives

The purpose of this study is to investigate social movement and quest for social justice in Nigeria. Specifically, the objectives include:

  1. To determine the nature and causes of social conflicts in Nigeria
  2. To examine the role of social movement in achieving social justice in Nigeria
  3. To determine the paths to the reconciliation and restoration of social justice and national integration in Nigeria

1.4 Research Questions

This project is designed to tackle the following reach questions;

  1. What is the nature and causes of social conflicts in Nigeria?
  2. What is the role of social movement in achieving social justice in Nigeria?
  3. What are the paths to the reconciliation and restoration of social justice and national integration in Nigeria?

1.5 Research Hypothesis

The following hypotheses were formulated to guide the study the hypothesis is to be tested at 0.5 alpha levels.

  • HO1: There is no significant relationship between social movement and social justice in Nigeria
  • HA1: There is a significant relationship between social movement and social justice in Nigeria

1.6 Significance of the Study

The study attempts a systematic investigation into the nature and causes of social conflicts in Nigeria. It examines the conditions for conflict management and resolution, and the reasons why previous attempts have not largely been successful. It examines the context of social justice in Nigeria and the paths to the reconciliation and restoration of social order and national integration. The study seeks to offer a holistic and concise account of the complex problem of conflict and resources in Nigeria. Its major contribution lies in the quest for more viable and enduring rules and systems that would ensure the sustenance of human dignity, peace and harmony. It analyzes the important role of ethical education and reorientation in the inculcation of values such as mutual respect, tolerance, justice and compassion among human beings within the Nigerian society. It also highlights the factors that have contributed to the vitiation of national security and stability in the society.

1.7 Definition of Terms

Social Movement:

Is a loosely organized effort by a large group of people to achieve a particular goal, typically a social or political one. This may be to carry out, resist or undo a social change. It is a type of group action and may involve individuals, organizations or both.

Social Justice:

Is fairness as it manifests in society. That includes fairness in healthcare, employment, housing, and more. Discrimination and social justice are not compatible. … Now, social justice applies to all aspects of society, including race and gender, and it is closely tied to human rights.

Social Conflict:

Is the struggle for agency or power in society. Social conflict occurs when two or more people oppose each other in social interaction, each exerts social power with reciprocity in an effort to achieve incompatible goals whilst preventing the other from attaining their own.

1.8 Organization of the Study

This study is divided into five chapters. The first chapter is the introduction which contains the background, research problems and objectives. The second chapter is the literature review and the third chapter is the research methodology. In the fourth chapter, the researcher analyses the data and discusses the results. The fifth chapter is the last chapter which presents the summary, conclusion and recommendations.

Chapter Five

5.0 Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations

5.1 Summary

A successful social movement largely depends on mass awareness; thus, if people of Nigeria together carry out a social media movement of a larger level it might ripple across the nation toward the whole world, just like the case of the black lives matter movement which became a global movement. Indeed, that is the beauty of democracy because the fundamental human rights of the citizenry are respected. This study has helped to understand that the influence of social media and print media significantly affected people to generate the movement, therefore, adoption of the social movement and social media to complement the mass media would not only enhance the information and communication strategy but also help to reduce digital divide and draw us a step closer to attaining social justice.

5.2 Conclusion

Social movements are now an established part of the political scene and can be seen to have chalked up a number of important successes over the years in relation to their specific goals and the pursuit of social justice more generally. Social work too has made significant advances in developing its progressive edge and making a contribution to social justice, although we must be careful not to overestimate the progress made or underestimate how much remains to be done. However, what is clear is that, partly as a result of the influence of social movements on social work, the profession is now in a much stronger position to move away from the traditional individualistic approach which paid little or no attention to wider cultural and structural factors and to act as a force for social amelioration and the challenging of injustice, discrimination and oppression.

5.3 Recommendations

  1. First, it is important that the clarification of the issues of human dignity and justice, which are vital for the resolution of social conflicts should be emphasized. This is because a conflict at any level in society usually involves a struggle for justice. Conflict implies that peaceable coexistence and the principles of justice are not being effectively applied, if they actually exist in the society.
  2. The consistency and commitment with which a society seeks peace will determine the extent to which it will guarantee the survival well-being of the people. Hence, justice needs to be upheld in order to ensure that there is peace, order and stability in the society via strategically formed and executed social movements in collaboration with the social media and digital technologies.
  3. Lastly, there is an urgent need to investigate some of the central means of conflict resolution to establish enduring peace and justice for those concerned. Apart from some of the institutionalized means of resolving conflicts, some factors that are important for conflict resolution include values, endowments and abilities.

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