approach needs to be accompanied by society or culture
sympathetic to the rule of law. Law enforcement and regulatory
systems function more effectively in myriad ways when bolstered
by a sympathetic culture – a culture of lawfulness.
A culture of lawfulness means that the dominant culture, ethos,
and thought in a society are sympathetic to the rule of Law as
distinct from rule by Law. Without such a culture of lawfulness,
there would almost certainly be more crime. Most people act in a
manner consistent with the Law because of their expectations
that others will behave similarly and that this is best for
everyone. In the absence of a culture of lawfulness, many will
be freer to satisfy their immediate needs and preferences, even
in the presence of elaborate laws. That is really where we find
On the other hand,
without laws and law enforcement, the culture of lawfulness, on
its own, is unlikely to provide for the rule of Law. There must
be specific processes for rule making and rule enforcing. The
culture needs enforcement, but the enforcers need the culture,
otherwise, society might be swamped by the violation of laws, or
a pervasive police presence would be needed to control
criminality. At the same time, the rule of law protects society
from the excesses of Law enforcement.
The rule of law
without a culture of lawfulness is not really feasible; the rule
of Law without such a culture is also not really desirable.
Without a culture of lawfulness, law enforcement is futile.
Without law enforcement, the promise of democracy cannot be
fulfilled. Increasing public awareness of these propositions is
important. Government may have a lead role in providing a lawful
environment for the citizenry, but civic, religious,
labour, cultural, and social organizations at all levels of
society have important roles to play.
contribute to a culture of lawfulness, but one of the most
important elements, education, has been overlooked in campaigns
to reduce crime and corruption. Relying on law enforcement alone
to stem the tide in these twin evils is neither feasible nor
desirable. There is the need to look to education and culture –
to grassroots prevention - to augment the traditional fight
against crime and corruption. As the story of Palermo, Sicily,
Italy shows, civic education or education for democracy, can
significantly help build the culture of lawfulness.
educating the citizenry is essential. Mass civic education is
necessary to improve citizens’ substantive knowledge about crime
and corruption, and influence of their attitude. These do not
come automatically, especially to young persons. Systematic,
formal, and less formal education programmes in schools,
professional associations, trade unions, and the workplace, as
well as religious institutions appear to make a difference when
they go hand-in-hand with regulatory practices.
The cognitive or
knowledge based goals of an educational programme on crime and
corruption would enable citizens explain why society needs to
develop and maintain a culture of lawfulness, describe how crime
and corruption threaten the values and institutions of society
and a culture of lawfulness; and identify measures that could be
taken by themselves (citizens) and society to promote a culture
of lawfulness and to resist the attraction to and acceptance of
crime and corruption.
Building a culture of
lawfulness does not take eternity. In “Guide to Developing a
Culture of Lawfulness”, Dr. Roy Godson, Professor of Government,
Georgetown University, asserted that
elements of a culture of lawfulness can be built in a relatively
short time frame – within one generation”. The methods,
techniques, and processes that have been successful in other
jurisdictions e.g. Hong Kong and Sicily between the late 1970s
and the late 1990s, demonstrate that it is possible to shift a
culture and bolster the rule of law even in areas where crime,
corruption, and poverty have been prevalent for decades.
The phenomenon of
crime and corruption is increasingly complex. To confront it,
better planned and more scientific and technologically sound
instruments, resources, regulations, and actions are required.
Education is and will be an essential and irreplaceable
instrument as we strive toward the achievement of curbing the
scourge of crime and corruption in Nigeria.
Hon. Nimi Walson-Jack
Public Education Works Initiative
Hon. Nimi Walson-Jack
is the Vice President, Civitas International, a non-governmental
organization dedicated to civic education in educational
institutions and the community. Hon. Walson-Jack was the General
Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association (2004-2006), and a
former Electoral Commissioner, Rivers State Independent
Electoral Commission. He is a Lawyer, public speaker and civic
educator, resident in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria