Interrogating the Non-Justiciability of Constitutional Directive Principles and Public Policy Failure in Nigeria

  •  Taiwo Olaiya    


The fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy, contained in Chapter II of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, are guidelines to the federal and state governments of Nigeria to promote social order. As framed, the objectives appear to encompass social inclusiveness with a view to reducing socio-economic and political inequality in status and opportunities among individuals and corporate entities. Grosso modo, the directives should ordinarily be kept in mind while framing laws and public policies in nigeria. Among others, the Chapter provides for political, economic, social, educational, foreign policy and environmental objectives of state policy, which roughly correlate with the third generation rights now recognized by the United Nations Organisation’s 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Potentially, the provisions could also appropriate the key attributes to good governance as recognised by the United Nations and the World Bank Governance Indicators, if properly administered. However, despite the principles laid down therein considered fundamental in the governance of the country and which could have induced a duty from the state to apply these principles in making laws and policies for just and equitable administration of the country, these provisions are not enforceable by any court in Nigeria vide a counter-provision in section 6, sub-section (6), paragraph (c) of the 1999 Constitution, which makes the objectives non-justiceable. This paper thus analysed the logical repercussions of the non-justiciability of this important chapter vis-à-vis the Nigerian pervasive atmosphere of public policy failure. The paper utilised sequential logic of social narratives to interrogate the legal imports of this aspects of the Constitution, most especially for the attainment of the objectives contained Chapter II against the backdrop of Section 6(6)(c). The paper concluded, among others, that there is urgent need to subject the objectives to binding governmental obligations to avoid the general lackluster attitude towards public policies in Nigeria.

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