The enforcement of social and economic rights in Africa: The Nigerian experience
The debates on socio-economic rights have now shifted from desirability to problems of enforcement. This does not indicate that socio-economic rights have gained universality such that all countries in Africa embrace and enforce them. There are few countries such as South Africa where these rights have not only been constitutionalized, but have been duly enforced. Nigeria has them under the nonjusticiable directive principles of state policy. However, the fact today is that there are cultural and other impediments to the effective and efficient enforcement of such rights. Thus, the main objective of this paper is to identify some of these impediments and to proffer solutions. The paper depends largely on perception of the nature of socio-economic rights arguing that such rights depend squarely on the state of economy of the state and the effective and efficient management of the economic resources. The paper finds that unlike the traditional, first generation rights, the enforcement of socio-economic rights puts huge financial claims on the state and also involves legislative appropriation without which the executive cannot effectively enforce such rights even where the judiciary orders enforcement of the rights in deserving situations. The paper observes that the enforcement of such rights would also invariably depend on ability and readiness to combat the pervasive corruption in most countries of the continent. Besides, although science and technology in the area of agriculture have rendered suspect the Malthusian theory on population, African nations must control population growth in the continent, and also redirect cultural imperatives that encourage unchecked child rearing, illiteracy and poverty.