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Chief Afe Babalola
Ongoing efforts to review the 1999 Constitution will amount to exercise in futitlity.
Afe Babalola, founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, made this postulation in a statement on Wednesday, expressing doubts that the exercise would be adequate to fully address the nation’s problems.
The senior advocate of Nigeria said the only constitution that could be worked on to make a difference remained the 1963 constitution, pointing out that the root cause of the nation’s current problems was the 1999 constitution foisted on Nigeria by the military.
In the alternative, Babalola suggested the convocation of a national conference to accommodate all opinions on how to move the country forward.
Said he: “Alternatively, since amendment in law includes substitution for an existing document, why is it that the national assembly cannot call for a Public Hearing on the substitution of the 1999 constitution for the 1963 constitution which was made with the consent of the people?”
“Against the background of the massive demand by Nigerians at home and abroad for a true Federal constitution made by the people and for the people, the national assembly is calling for Public Hearing in the country’s six Geo-political Zones for people’s inputs on any issue of interest to enable it amend the 1999 constitution, but I have reservations on this.
“To me, the proposed amendment to the 1999 constitution by the national assembly: whichever way you look at it, is a futile exercise.
“It is common knowledge that the 1999 constitution was made by the military which in its wisdom, claimed that it was made by the people.
“The truth is that there is no way the national assembly can amend the 1999 constitution to cure inherent defects in the 1999 constitution. First, you cannot cure fraud. Second, it is impossible, by way of amendment, to take away the military system of government under the 1999 constitution or the power and control of public funds by the President.
“Or can we, by way of amendment, change the Judicial powers of the President under the 1999 constitution? The fact remains that you cannot amend a Coconut tree which has no branches to become an Iroko tree which has branches.
“It is a well-known fact that everything about the 1999 Constitution is wound around the Presidential system of government”.
“We all know that previous sessions of national assembly made laws to convene a national conference. I, therefore, advise that the current national assembly should call for a national conferenceto discuss and make a new, true Federal Constitution which will provide for a Parliamentary system of government”.