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Adebanjo, Aregbesola, Duke, Others Call For New Constitution To Propel Nigeria’s Development 

NIGERIA: Some eminent Nigerian political and leaders of thought have called for a new constitution to propel the country’s development and address its present challenges

The leaders included the Afenifere Leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, Ex-Osun Rauf Aregbesola, a former PDP Deputy National Chairman, Chief Bode George, a legal luminary, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) among others.

They spoke on Monday at the “National Dialogue on the Constitutional Future of Nigeria” in honour of the late renowned constitutional lawyer, Prof. Ben Nwabueze.

The dialogue was organised by The Patriots, a pan-Nigerian group of eminent national leaders of thought.

The programme had the theme, “Lawful Procedures for Actualising a People’s Constitution for Nigeria.”

Speaking in turns to stress the indispensability of a truly people’s constitution to a working country, the political stakeholders called for the abolition of the 1999 constitution.

Speaking, Adebanjo said that for Nigeria to move forward, the constitution must be changed to reflect true federalism.

The Afenifere leader called for the adoption of the 2014 Constitutional Conference report and its processing into a new constitution for the country.

“You cannot get a better representation for this country other than those who represented this country in 2014.

“I challenge anybody to tell me if there can be a better representation for this country other than the 2014 representation of Nigerians,” Adebanjo said.

He said that the 1999 constitution was lopsided and not federal in nature, noting that the 2014 National Confab had addressed its inadequacies.

Adebanjo said that there was no need to consider calling another assembly of Nigerians, saying the 2014 confab document contained all that would be needed to draft a new constitution for the country.

Sanwo-Olu, in his goodwill message, threw his weight behind the agitation for a truly federal constitution for Nigeria in order to devolve power to the states.

He charged the National Assembly to put a legal framework in place for the birth of a new constitution that would be determined by the Nigerian people.

According to him, it is an anomaly, for instance, for a federal agency to control the water ways in Lagos.

The governor said it was regrettable that people who were advocates of true federalism suddenly change as soon as they get to the centre.

He, however, said the conversation around the making of a new constitution should be driven further.

He said, “We must take this conversation and make it very effective. Let us be able to make the change we desire. Let the soul of Prof. Ben Nwabueze rest in peace.”

Speaking, Aregbesola said Nigeria could not survive executive presidential system, saying presidential system remained a death knell for Nigeria.

The former Minister of Interior, said: “Can Nigeria survive executive presidential representation. The answer is no.”

He also called for a new constitution to put the country on the path of development.

In his keynote address, Ozekhome, called on the National Assembly to set up a National Referendum Commission that would collate all recommendations towards drafting of a new constitution.

According to him, the constitution is the birth certificate or identity card of any nation, saying that the procedure by which a constitution comes is more important than the constitution itself.

He added: “Referendum is key to any constitution making. Constitution amendment is not the problem. The 1999 Constitution is a fundamentally flawed one; one million amendments cannot cure or solve it.

“Nigerians should sit down to renegotiate their constitution and believe in themselves, as people believe more in their home states than a country called Nigeria.”

He said that the National Assembly should promulgate a law setting up a National Referendum Commission (NRC), that will be charged with working on the report of the 2014 conference and the 1963 constitution, to birth a new constitution.

In his speech, George, a PDP leader, who was also a member of the 2014 National Delegates Conference, said the current system was not working.

Also speaking, a former Cross River State governor, Mr Donald Duke, said that constitutional change was very important, noting that if the country had the right constitution with the right people, things would work out well.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that other eminent Nigerians spoke at the dialogue included former governors Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti) Sen. Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto), James Ibori (Delta), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Gbenga Daniel (Ogun), Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Chief Emeka Anyaoku, former Secretary- General of the Commonwealth, among others.

NAN reports that Prof. Nwabueze was the pioneer Secretary-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo.

He was also a Senor Advocate of Nigeria and a leading leader of thought.

Nwabueze died on October 28, 2023, aged 92.

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