Changing Nigeria’s constitution can’t guarantee a perfect country, says Agbakoba

Changing Nigeria’s constitution can’t guarantee a perfect country, says Agbakoba

A former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), has said a change of the 1999 Constitution will not guarantee a perfect country.

Agbakoba said this at the inaugural #FixPoliticsDialogues, a platform which convenes debates on national issues.

The event, tagged: “1999 Constitution: To change or amend?” was organised by FixPolitics, a non-profit organisation.

The frontline lawyer noted that despite its imperfections, the current constitution is not obeyed.

He said the process of birthing a new constitution requires strategic engagements.

He said: “To force a change of constitution outside the legal framework will be considered a revolution.

“Let’s not assume that a perfect constitution that we all strive for means that by a flick of the switch everything is good.

“Currently, the constitution, imperfect as it is, is not obeyed. So, what says that the constitution we envisage will be obeyed? The answer to it is something we should reflect on carefully.

“Part of the problem we face today is the process. Because the process is faulty, Nigerians cannot claim ownership to the constitution. If there is a way to reverse that problem by overhauling the constitution and bringing in a new one, that, I think, is the ideal.”

Also, Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi has said the 1999 Constitution has several inherent defects, which render it ineffective to address preponderance of challenges facing the country.

The governor spoke yesterday in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, at a consultation forum to harmonise views of the government and people of the state on the review of the 1999 Constitution.

He said: “Over the years, there have been calls from almost every part of the country for constitutional review. This has led to the creation of many conferences with a view to writing a fresh constitution for Nigeria. Unfortunately, none of the reports of the previous conferences has yielded positive result because of the way and manner the conferences were structured and managed.

“We need to further consolidate and entrench the essence of our constitution as the only basis for the exercise of all powers under a constitutional democracy. This review process must not in any way dent the integrity and acceptability that should be credited to the 1999 Constitution.

“Rather, we should, by this process, celebrate and affirm the sacredness of our constitution and its integrity.”

Fayemi urged the review committee to critically work and concentrate on the defects of the 1999 Constitution and tap from the resources of constitutional reform veterans, like Prof. Akin Oyebode, Bishop Felix Ajakaiye, and Dr. Kunle Olajide, who participated actively in the 2014 National Conference to enrich their suggestions and recommendations.

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