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National Assembly has a big role to play in bringing about people’s constitution, says Ozekhome, others



National Assembly has a big role to play in bringing about people’s constitution, says Ozekhome, others
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Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Prof Mike Ozekhome and other eminent Nigerians have argued that the National Assembly has a big role to play in bringing about a people’s constitution, noting that the 1999 constitution was foisted on Nigerians by the military.

They spoke at an event to honour foremost constitutional lawyer, Prof Ben Nwabueze organized by The Patriot, a Pan Nigerian Group of Eminent National Leaders of Thought with the theme “Lawful Procedures for actualizing a People’s Constitution for Nigeria”.

While delivering the keynote address at the event, Ozekhome lamented the illegitimacy of the 1999 constitution which was foisted on Nigerians by the Military which conferred legislative power on itself.

“The constitution is the certificate of every nation. It is very important. The process and procedure by which a constitution comes to be is more important than the constitution itself. The Green and Red Chambers have set up a committee to amend the constitution but will this amount to what Nigerians are looking for?

“Can you amend a fundamentally flawed document? “My humble answer is that you cannot. One million amendments, multiplied by one million amendments of the present fundamentally flawed constitution, cannot cure the original sin.

READ ALSO: Nigerians have never have things so bad –Ozekhome

“What is that original sin? It was imposed on you and I militarily by a military junta led by General Abdulsalami Abubakar and 28 members of the provisional ruling council.

“It was never subjected to the referendum of the people. Guess what? The present constitution was attached as a mere schedule to decree number 24 of 1999.

“So, the constitution you are using is a mere schedule attached to a decree. How can you amend it? How do you cleanse it? Nigeria must own their own constitution through a popular referendum of the people.”

“Nigerians must own their own constitution through a referendum without that we will just be on a journey to no destination. All the problems of insecurity and mutual distrust, banditry are mere symptoms of a larger ailment. We are operating a system we are not meant to operate.

Proffering the solution to the challenges, Ozekhome called for the enactment of six zonal structures to administer each region.

“I proffer solutions as follows. We need six zonal structures which will directly oversee the states. Each state will have a state police and allow the Governor to fund its police. Create a supreme court for the sub divisional group to manage matters.


State should be granted full control over their resources and pay 30 per cent to the centre” he advocated.

Earlier, Chairman of the group, Chief Anyaoku, in his opening remarks, said Nigeria is deteriorating and has continued to deteriorate in the areas of security, social cohesion values and economy amongst others which was made possible due to the constitution being practiced.

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“I welcome you to this National dialogue as a memorial tribute for the late chairman of The Patriots, Prof Ben Nwabueze.

“First, Nigeria is a pluralistic country that is still struggling to become a nation. A nation with assured political stability and socioeconomic behaviour. Some pluralistic countries have succeeded in becoming a nation while some pluralistic countries have failed. The lesson from this is that such pluralistic countries that have succeeded have practiced true federalism.

“This fact was recognised by the founding fathers of Nigeria who painstakingly drafted the 1960 constitution.

“The second incontrovertible fact is that the present 1999 constitution not only lacks the legitimacy but proved unsuitable to tackling the many challenges confronting the country.

“It is a recognised fact that some areas of the country have deteriorated and have continued to deteriorate. Security and economy of the citizen. Infrastructure including roads, education and health facilities, social cohesion and values and the sense of national unity. These areas have witnessed significant deterioration over the years. There has been no shortage of opinion on what should be a suitable constitution.

“I hope therefore that this colloquium will focus on producing such a constitution” he said.

The governor Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo Olu stirred the hornet’s nest at the event when he declared that it is pertinent that the country reverts to true federalism while wondering how a federal agency will dictate to the state on how to administer resources in a state.

He wondered aloud how some former state actors who were proponents of federalism moved to the federal level to start fighting against the cause of decentralisation of power.

He volunteered to dedicate all within his capacity to ensure the success of returning Nigeria to a true federal state.

“How well do we see the anomalies that we have in our country? Why would we have a federal agency come to control the water in front of Ozumba Mbadiwe?” the Lagos governor asked.


On his part, the former Governor of Sokoto state and serving Senator, Aminu Tambuwal expressed sadness that the country has found itself in a conundrum.

“It is unfortunate that we have found ourselves in this conundrum, however, conversation like these provided by a platform like The Patriot gives and proffers a way out of the conundrum” he stated.

He however assured of his support for the process that will enable the promotion of the bill for the establishment of the Referendum Commission.

Former Governor of Akwa Ibom state, Obong Victor Attah, pleaded with the National Assembly to reject the call for the review of the 1999 constitution. He charged the lawmakers to make a new constitution for the country.

Similarly, former Governor of Ogun state, Senator Ibikunle Amosun said, “We all agree that our constitution is faulty. What we should do is to work on what everybody has been saying. The outcome of this colloquium should be taken to the National Assembly and don’t stop on that, we can seek an audience with the president and all the ethnic groups. We have been on this since. Some of our elders died fighting for this. We should take this step and I am sure we will get there.”

On his part, Chief James Ibori enjoined The Patriot to seek an audience with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to secure his buy-in. He charged Governor Sanwo-Olu to lead the Patriot to secure an audience with the President.

READ ALSO: Sanwo-Olu elevates five directors to perm secs

“Members of the Patriot need to sit with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to secure his buy-in, Governor Sanwo-Olu should lead them to the President, he is a true advocate of federalism, so, he wouldn’t need too much convincing” he added.

Eminent personalities that graced the occasion were former governors of Osun (Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola), Ogun (Ibikunle Amosun), Cross River (Donald Duke), Ekiti (Kayode Fayemi), Delta (James Ibori), Rivers (Rotimi Amaechi) and Akwa Ibom (Victor Obong Attah).

Others were Senators Gbenga Daniel and Aminu Tambuwal, Chief Olabode George, and a leader of the Pan Yoruba social group, Afenifere Pa. Ayo Adebanjo, former Military governor of Imo State Gen Ike Nwachukwu, Idika Kalu, former Minister of Finance under Military Head of State, Major General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, Dr Tunji Abayomi, Prof Anya Oko Anya amongst others.

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