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Nigeria Needs New Constitution, Says Anyaoku


(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – A former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Emeka Anyaoku, says that for Nigeria to move forward a new constitution is needed to arrest the problems of the country.

Anyaoku stated this on Friday in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital when he delivered the 2023 Convocation Lecture of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, titled, “Management of diversity: A major challenge to governance in pluralistic countries”.

 

According to the former Commonwealth scribe, for Nigeria to be a transformed country, the country needs a system of government that not only addresses Nigeria’s diversity but is also hinged on a constitution that can correctly be described as the Nigerian people’s Constitution.

He said: “The essence of the new Constitution should, in recognition of the crucial principle of subsidiarity in every successful federation, involve a devolution of powers from the central government to fewer and more viable federating units with strong provisions for inclusive governance at the centre and in the regions as was agreed by Nigeria’s founding fathers.”

Anyaoku stated that Nigeria successfully managed diversity in the early years of independence when “Nigeria’s diversity was perceived by all as a source of strength and inspirer of national unity. But all this changed when the military intervened in the country’s governance in January 1966 and changed the existing constitution”.

He said: “In contrast, today if truth be told, the situation in our country is lamentable. There is an unprecedented level of divisiveness and a declining sense of national unity; the economy is in the doldrums, with 133 million of our population in multidimensional poverty.”

However, despite these, he said, “I believe that Nigeria is still salvageable. The country can still be restored to greater peace, greater security, a renewed sense of national unity, greater political stability, and a more assured pace of economic development.

“To arrest the ongoing deterioration of the situation in the country and to achieve the desired transformation for the better, we need a system of government that not only addresses our diversity but is also based on a Constitution that can correctly be described as a Nigerian people’s Constitution.

“Accordingly, I call on the Presidency in consultation with the National Assembly, instead of continuing to tinker with the 1999 Constitution, to acknowledge the urgent necessity of a new Constitution to be made by the people of Nigeria.”

He tasked the Federal Government to quickly “convene a National Constituent Assembly of directly elected representatives on a non-party basis whose task would be to discuss and agree on a new Constitution,” and also to take accounts of the 1963 and the 1999 Constitutions and the recommendations of the 2014 national conference.

“The Constituent Assembly should be given six months to produce the draft new Constitution. The agreed draft constitution should be put to a national referendum for adoption by a majority of the voters, after which it should be signed by the President,” he said.

ABUAD Founder, Aare Afe Babalola, who heaped praises on Anyaoku for the lecture, also share in the view of changing the constitution as  the perception of Nigerian politicians  who see politics as a lucrative business rather than a service to the people  will be among the things the new constitution would address.

Babalola said: “Until we change the constitution, there is no way we can achieve what we ought to achieve.

“With what we are doing here in ABUAD, a new Nigeria is being nurtured. ABUAD is producing special leaders who can change Nigeria. They are contended, reliable, kind and they believe in giving and making things better.” 

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