Anyaoku, Adebanjo Push For New Constitution

To halt the raging insecurity and socio-economic crises, and redirect Nigeria on the path of growth and development there is an urgent need to do away with the 1999 constitution and give Nigeria a new people’s constitution.

This was the consensus of elder statesmen, some serving lawmakers, political leaders and lawyers, who converged in Lagos, for a National Constitutional Dialogue organised by The Patriots, a group of eminent Nigerians and elders in honour of late legal luminary, Professor Ben Nwabueze, SAN.

Themed: “Lawful Procedures For Actualising A People’s Constitution for Nigeria,” the event was to also mark the 10th anniversary of the convocation of the 2014 National Conference, which was set up by former President Goodluck Jonathan on March 17, 2014.

Eminent Nigerians, who spoke at the colourful event include Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos; Chairman of The Patriots and former Commonwealth Secretary-General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku; Afenifere Leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo; former External Affairs Minister, Senator Ike Nwachukwu; former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Victor Attah; and Legal Icon, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN.

Others who shared their thoughts include Elder statesmen, Professor Anya O Anya, and Chief Solomon Asemota, SAN. Senator Aminu Tambuwal, Senator Gbenga Daniel, Chief Olabode George, former Governors Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), James Ibori (Delta), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Donald Duke (Cross River), Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Dr Kalu Idika Kalu, Dr Tunji Abayomi, Alhaji Yerima Shettima and Chief Ifeyinwa Ezenwa, a 2014 confab delegate.

Chaired by Chief Anyaoku, the event was attended by a host of 2014 confab delegates, who lamented the recurring wastage of billions of Naira on constitution amendments by the National Assembly and sought an end to the unending exercises without commensurate results.

In sum, most speakers agreed that the 1999 constitution is faulty, the 2014 confab is a good platform for giving Nigerians a new constitution, the National Assembly should halt ongoing constitution amendment moves but rather make a law for the people to make a constitution for themselves.

They also suggested getting the buy-in of President Bola Tinubu, governors, the National Assembly, state houses assembly and other stakeholders.

Indeed, Governor Sanwo-Olu, who lamented that he did not know why some leaders at the presidency make 360 degrees on turn on issues they canvassed at the state level in the past, promised to collaborate with The Patriots and other stakeholders to ensure true federalism. He added that he did not understand why a federal agency in Abuja should be telling Lagosians what happens on the shoreline of Ozumba Mbadiwe.

Also, Senator Tambuwal promised to take the matter to the National Assembly alongside Senator Daniel noting that a doctrine of necessity from the legislature may be needed to overcome the constitution amendment lacuna provided by the 1999 Constitution.

Former Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Ameachi, said that it is time for action. “We have had this talk over and over, there’s no change. There’s a need to do something.”

On his part, Aregbesola called for a return to the parliamentary system of government warning that the executive presidential system would kill Nigeria, if not dropped.

Attah said there is a dire need for a completely new constitution, not an amended constitution. Recalling that Professor Nwabueze regretted participating in saddling the centre with humongous powers in the name of ensuring national unity he said the late legal giant regretted that “instead of producing unity, it’s producing disunity”

According to him, one of the fundamental and cardinal flaws of the 1999 constitution is the concentration of powers in the centre. “We might not achieve true federalism because the basis has proven to be misguided. The unity we set to achieve was not achieved, what we achieved was more disunity. From this it becomes critically clear that the underpinning principles that guided the drafting of our constitution has turned out to be misguided.”

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