SOCIAL CONTRACT: THE COMMON MAN’S CONTRACT

Abstract:

A society or a system, can be said to be malfunctioning when it lacks the ability for good leadership and governance which is contrary to the will of the common man. In a malfunctioned society, corruption thrives more and poverty is endemic, especially where there is no contract or agreement between the people and politicians for tracking the performances of the leadership. This project is based on the premise to review and propose the Social Contract as a viable tool for social change and a strategic pro-people initiative for fighting corruption through voters-candidates/ electorate-political parties commitment to good governance, starting with the electoral process. Social contract gives greater latitude for a preventive approach to fighting corruption, especially when the people are actively involved before, during and after elections. The social contract provides a tool for holding government accountable and a framework for the common people and the leaders of the state to negotiate for a cohesive social and political stability.

 

Introduction:

Origin of Social Contract: Social Contract Theory

Social contract theory establishes that people live together in an ideal society in accordance with an agreement that creates a moral and political rules for conduct.

Over the times, philosophers like Socrates, Jean Jacques Roseau and John Lock have tried to describe what they term the ideal social contract, and to explain how existing social contracts have progressed. Philosopher Stuart Rachels suggests that morality is the set rules that governs behaviour that rational people accept, on the condition that others accept them too.

Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) begins his definition of the Social Contract with the most famous words he ever wrote: “Men are born free, yet everywhere are in chains.” Roseau’s philosophy is seen as one of the best in terms of application as he argues that laws are binding only when they are supported by the general will of the people. He was however, regarded as the “champion of the common man” in this regard. His idea that man is born free but he is everywhere in chain challenged the traditional order of the society up to this contemporary age.

One may look at whether social contracts are explicit or implicit, but the onus lies in the fact that they provide a valuable framework for harmony in society.

For us to have a stable society, there must be an established norms that guide the people and the government of the state. They must also be willing to enter into the Social Contract agreement that will ascertain the people’s consent for their general protection. This can however be sought under the bargain of a commonly shared values.

However, it is in line with the 2019 general elections in Nigeria, that the Social Contract is being proposed as a model to reviewing and determining the commitment of politicians and political parties in the Nigeria polity.

 

WHAT IS THE SOCIAL CONTRACT ALL ABOUT?

The social Contract can be best simplified as the “Common Man’s Contract or The People’s Contract where there is the explicit expression of the general will of a people and their collective interests. A social contract accepts and guides the human condition, conducts, aspirations to personal power and conscience, including guaranteeing the involvement of the people in ensuring transparency and accountability in government. For a Social Contract to exist, the people agree to basic commitments, surrender some freedoms to the authority, and do so voluntarily In exchange for the protection of their freedoms and lives, as well as the promises of services from government or state.

 

Our Mumu Don Do FRAMEWORK:

The purpose of this project is for the common man to first understand the concept and basis for a social contract as a necessary pact between the people and the political class to demand a greater access to government, curb corruption, ensure transparency and accountability and get good governance in return.

This intervention will strengthen the people to enter into Social Contract with the state/political parties/candidates so as to establish and demand for their social rights by consenting to a give and take practices,that will engender good governance and are valuable to both parties. The people are sufficiently sensitised to pledge not to collect money to vote, commit to paying their taxes regularly, while the leadership is contracted to commit to the demands of the people.

The strategy being employed by the Nigerian state in the fight against corruption has consistently lacked a genuine people-driven approach which can sufficiently help to curb the hydra-headed monster. The Nigerian Social Contract Initiative (NSCI)is a preventive mechanism for strengthening the citizens to demand for transparent and accountable leadership through a contractual engagement with the ruling elites.

The commitment of the common man to pay his taxes and not to obtain money to vote must be rewarded with an “Open Government” where corruption is curbed, eliminated and good governance is established. The NSCI can gradually redefine the landscape by recreating a society that works.

 

The Common man understanding of Social Contract

It must be defined in the simplest of form as:

A “Give and Take” Contract;

A Contract of “what I can do for you”; “what you can do for me”; what we can do for ourselves;

A Contract of “what I will do for you; what you will do for me; what we will do for ourselves.

 

The Social Contract is an I-You-We Contract  

This framework proposes two key actionable approach that requires certain obligation by the people and the state towards achieving social contract in a fragile state like Nigeria. They are:

  • Implicit (to agree mutually to the offers and acceptances of what is good for the common man and the state.
  • Explicit (recognising social contract within the framework of the constitution and the law)
  • The fragile state question through elections and re-election can be addressed through social cohesion for example, the common man pledge to vote a leader for four years and the leader or candidate ensures their interest are protected for the whole years for the stipulated period of four years without alteration.

The establishment or strengthening of measures that enforce political commitments and reduce biases in how institutions work is also what the social contract would address.

 

BENEFITS OF THE SOCIAL CONTRACT?

The Our Mumu Don Do movement is concerned about supporting the country to eliminate corruption and move it closer toward the implementation and justiciability of Chapter Two of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended). Chapter II of the Constitution is titled Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy.

The Nigerian Social Contract Initiative (NSCI) of Our Mumu Don Do movement is a multifaceted intervention that will strengthen the citizens in the fight against corruption, improves the quality of the electoral process and do the country a whole lot of good and help to

NSCI provides enormous benefits to the People and the Leadership:

  • Promotes transparency and accountability in leadership recruitments process by getting the people involved;
  • Strengthens the citizens participation in the electoral process to curb corruption;
  • Provides the ground for a common understanding of the real worth of democracy and election as a basis for good governance
  • As a give and take initiative, it helps to ensure good ethical conduct by the people and the candidates;
  • The people can understand the worth of their votes and the candidate value the investment of the people through their votes
  • It helps the people to ascertain a committed political party party and candidate
  • Political candidates and parties will be under an obligation to fulfilling their promises
  • It helps to define the relationship between the people and those seeking their votes
  • Where a candidate fails, by virtue of Social Contract, he stands to be removed from office, where possible through a recall or in the next election circle
  • It brings about greater access to good governance through mutual protection and guidance.

 

 

STRATEGIES TO BE DEPLOYED IN USING THE SOCIAL CONTRACT

The social contract is really only valid to the extent that the people accept and support it, and are able to understand it, including all of its consequences, both rights and obligations.

  • For Social Contract to thrive in a country like Nigeria, there is need for a robust or massive advocacy campaign through:
  • Town Hall Meetings in rural and urban areas
  • Constant engagement with the people
  • Massive Campaigns using the media (traditional and social)
  • Street and mobility tour
  • Audio and audio visual campaigns
  • Aligning the social contract in line with a candidate’s manifesto to meet the people’s needs.( The Mumu Don Do movement can in this regard, work with the political parties, candidates for a review of their manifestoes to enter into social contract with the people)