Anyaoku, Afe babalola call for new constitution to save Nigeria

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The Federal Government of Nigeria should organize a Constituent Assembly to draft a new Constitution in order to manage the nation’s variety and put an end to the multifaceted poverty that is wreaking havoc on the nation.

362 nonpartisan elected delegates, 10 from each of the current 36 states and two from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), should make up the group, which is expected to convene in six to nine months. The committee will also be supported by 37 lawyers, one from each of the 36 states and the FCT.

Speaking at the 11th convocation lecture of Afe Babalola University (ABUAD), Ado-Ekiti, former Commonwealth Secretary General Chief Emeka Anyaoku insisted that the new Constitution was the answer to Nigeria’s many crises, pointing out that over 133 million Nigerians were living in extreme poverty despite the nation’s crumbling social infrastructure.

The eminent diplomat pointed out that Nigeria’s variety was its socioeconomic strength both before and after independence in 1960 in his lecture, “Management of Diversity: A Major Challenge to Governance in Pluralistic Countries.”

He expressed sadness that “all this changed when the military changed the existing constitution and intervened in the country’s governance in January 1966.”

“But the crux of my submission is that, given our history over the last 63 years, we need a system of government that not only addresses our diversity but is also based on a Constitution that can rightfully be described as a Nigerian people’s Constitution in order to arrest the ongoing deterioration of the situation in the country and to achieve the desired transformation for the better,” he continued.

As a result, I urge the Presidency to recognize the urgent need for a new constitution written by the people of Nigeria in cooperation with the National Assembly, rather than carrying on making changes to the 1999 Constitution. In order to achieve this, I kindly request that the Federal Government take the following useful actions right away.

In order to discuss and agree on a new constitution for the Federal Republic of Nigeria that takes into account the 1963 and 1999 constitutions as well as the recommendations of the 2014 national conference, first call a national Constituent Assembly of representatives who are directly elected without regard to party affiliation.

“A six-person steering committee with equal individual powers—possibly comprising two co-chairmen, two vice-chairmen, and two joint secretaries—should be tasked with overseeing the work of the Constituent Assembly. Members of the Assembly themselves should pick the committee members from each of the six geopolitical zones.

“The President should sign the agreed-upon draft Constitution once it is submitted to a nationwide referendum for adoption by a majority of people.

“In my opinion, the core of the new Constitution should, as agreed upon by Nigeria’s founding fathers, involve devolution of powers from the Central government to fewer and more viable federating units with strong provisions for inclusive governance at the Center and in the Regions, in recognition of the crucial principle of subsidiarity in every successful federation.”

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He made fun of the scenario where states were compelled to rely on the federal government for their economic existence and pointed out that numerous nations, such as Switzerland, Belgium, the United Kingdom, and Canada, have managed their diversities by acting appropriately.

Aare Afe Babalola (SAN), the university’s founder, claimed that a small number of politicians had amassed enormous fortune by turning politics into a profitable business and bemoaned the state of affairs in Nigeria.

The nonagenarian said that during the past 30 years, he has advocated for a new constitution that would solve numerous issues impeding the nation’s progress. He urged President Bola Tinubu to heed the advice of wisdom and start the process of drafting a new constitution right away.

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