Yes, you read that correctly. Today (March 20) marks the maiden edition of the International Day of Happiness or World Happy Day, declared by the United Nations, at the prompting of the tiny nation of Bhutan.
It recognizes that happiness is a fundamental human goal, and calls upon countries to approach public policies in ways that improve the well being of ALL peoples.
For us in Nigeria, it is an opportunity to remind our governments that the Federation “shall be a state based on the principles of democracy and social justice”, section 14(1) of the Nigerian Constitution and that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”, section 14(2)(b) of the Constitution.
These guiding principles should be reflected in every action, policy, laws and conduct of governments and their officials in order to guarantee the happiness of ALL citizens, women, men, girls, boys, persons with disability, PLWHA, destitute, literate, illiterate, celebrities and non-celebrities, privileged convicts/common criminals and ordinary ones etc.
The thousands of citizens who get forcefully ejected from their homes, which various governments declare uninhabitable, without providing alternatives are entitled to be protected and made happy.
Those destitute who get evacuated from our cosmetically beautiful cities and are ‘deported’ to their state or local government or village of ‘origin’ are clearly denied the social justice that our constitution provides for.
The hundreds of citizens who get killed by acts of terror and counter-terror as well as their surviving relations have been let down by a country that ought to protect them.
The change needed to ensure that social justice exists in our country lies with the proverbial person we see in the mirror each day to speak up against all acts of injustice. We can do this even when for now, it is the ‘jews’ they are coming for and we are no ‘jews’, because eventually, they will come for us when we may have no one to speak up on our behalf.
This would require each one of us to speak truth to power whenever the opportunity presents itself. And those opportunities abound in every station of life we find ourselves. It includes the pulpits where many of our preachers often balk the opportunity to call government officials to order. It includes our traditional leadership and the so-called party elders or ‘elder statesmen’ who continue to cheer lead government officials for their selfish ends. It includes those who could influence opinions in the traditional and now popular social media. Very importantly, it is you the reader.
We cannot really claim happiness where social justice is absent.
Effanga, a lawyer and human rights activist writes from Abuja.