A former General Secretary, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr Dele Adesina, (SAN), on Wednesday urged the National Assembly to give a brand new constitution to Nigeria for peace and stability.
Adesina made the call at the South-West zonal public hearing of the House of Representatives Special Committee on the review of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Lagos.
According to him, the challenges facing the nation are symptoms of a faulty foundation brought by the constitution.
He noted that the current constitution contained some ‘incurable vices,’ and that the constitution lacked legitimacy and acceptability.
Adesina said some of the issues scheduled to be considered in the review exercise constituted fundamental and existential issues for Nigeria.
He said some of the issues were devolution of powers, federal structure and true federalism, Nigeria Police and security architecture.
“Everyone in this nation today accepts the fact that it is faced with a lot of structural and systemic challenges, a good number of which are the products of the inadequacies of the 1999 constitution.
“The contemporary challenges being faced in the nation today make the call for a new constitution not only worthy of consideration but compelling and inevitable.
“It is my humble view that the time to take the bull by the horn and drive a wholesale replacement of the 1999 Constitution through the instrumentality of an autonomous and independent body is now.
“Such body must emanate from the people,” Adesina said.
He added that a new constitution would solve widespread insecurity, sectional loyalty and allegiances.
According to him, it will also solve the lack of a properly focused political system cloaked in ideology and the uncountable number of political parties jostling for power and the agitation for true federalism, both fiscal and structural.
“The ultimate sovereignty lies with the people. It is my contention that we have gotten to a point in Nigeria when we should subject the nation to the sovereign will of the people by making a people-driven constitution.
“It will be a great day for Nigeria if we can take this giant step to fashion out a new constitution that will satisfy the yearnings and aspirations of all Nigerians rather than embarking on limitless amendments.
“A constitution that will enjoy a buy-in of all Nigerians. A constitution that Nigerians can take ownership of by their participation in the process of making it.
“No matter how long you persist on a wrong route, you can never arrive at your desired destination. The flaws of the 1999 Constitution cannot, no matter how many alterations, be cured,” said Adesina.
He lamented over the concentration of powers at the centre to the detriment of the federating units, saying the centre had been grabbing power at the expense of the federating units.
Also, Mr Adesina Ogunlana, on behalf of a group, the New Nigeria Network, proposed a new constitution for the country with a draft submitted to the committee for consideration.
Ogunlana said only a new constitution rather than an amendment could bring Nigeria out of its numerous challenges.
In her remarks, Mrs Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, Deputy Chief Whip, House of Representatives and Chairman of the Committee assured all stakeholders that their submissions and recommendations would be looked into.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the public hearing was well attended by various groups and associations, professional bodies and traditional rulers, among others.