Yadudu flays restructuring proponents, defends 1999 constitution
Former Legal Adviser to the late head of state, General Sani Abacha, Prof Auwal Yadudu has criticized the promoters of restructuring and charged them to follow the existing legal order, which is the 1999 Constitution.
The President-General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief John Nwodo and Afenifere leader, Pa Ayo Adebanjo had last week carpeted the 1999 Constitution, saying Northern Muslim Military forced it on Nigeria.
But, Prof Yadudu, while speaking at the Zoom Conference organized by Governance Index Platform on the topic, “The Coronavirus Pandemic: Good Governance, Restructuring and the 1999 Constitution”, at the weekend, described as a fallacy, the saying that the 1999 Constitution was imposed on the country by the military and that Nigeria cannot progress if the Constitution is not changed.
The professor of law also said, in the event moderated by the president of Igbo Ekunie Initiative (IEI), Chief Tochukwu Ezeoke that he didn’t author the 1999 constitution as being bandied by some individuals.
He explained that a committee chaired by the late Justice Niki Tobi authored the Constitution, although he admitted that General Abdulsalam Abubakar retained him as a legal adviser after the demise of Abacha.
Narrating how the 1999 Constitution was adopted, Yadudu said that the Committee chaired by the late Justice Tobi moved around the country with Nigerians overwhelmingly demanding for 1979 Constitution, which is the presidential system, saying that there is little difference between 1999 Constitution and 1979 Constitution.
He said: “The mistake has been continuously made that this Constitution is a military’s imposition, and we should have nothing to do with it and we are doomed to fail if we do not throw it into a ditch. My take on the 1999 Constitution is that it was adopted along the 1979 Constitution. You may say 1979 Constitution is an imposition of the military, but I think that the basic structure of 1954, 1960 and 1963 Constitutions, have chapters on the judiciary which is essentially has remained what it is.
“There is a chapter on fundamental rights, which as far as I can tell is also being improved upon. You have a chapter defining the power of states and Executive, Judiciary, Legislature, only that it is an executive system, not a parliamentary system. We have a Constitution that is distributed between legislative, exclusive and concurrent lists. What is in this feature that is uniquely an imposition of either 1979 or 1999 constitution? It is not a perfect document. It can be improved upon and some can be even overthrown.”
He argued that it is a fallacy to keep saying the constitution is an imposition and that we will go no further if we do not jettison it. According to him, the existing legal order is the 1999 Constitution and it has ways and means of changing it, including even entirely or terminates it. He stated that he has no problem with restructuring provided the action is carried out in line with the existing legal order, which is the 1999 constitution.
He also criticised the constitutional provision that allows the president to assent to bills or veto them, saying it is wrong in the spirit of the presidential system of government.
On 2014 National Conference, Yadudu blamed the former President, Goodluck Jonathan for non-implementation of 2014 National Conference report because the Committee submitted its report within a stipulated date.
He said: “The timing he chose was complied with when the report went to him. We finished on August 14, submitted the report on the first week of September and he had the whole year to do what he wished with the report, but he did nothing about it.
“The president himself who choose a wrong time and even when it was handed over to him, he did nothing, not even a single recommendation in it did he implement. He just pushed the file to some other people.
Speaking during Conference, former chairman, National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Dr. Sam Amadi kicked against the continuous amendment of the Constitution. According to him, when you amend the Constitution continuously, it creates a subject of contestation.
He said: “I am not a supporter of continuous amendment of the Constitution. The theory from political scientists is that the most stable Constitutions are those constitutions that have not been altered because when you amend a Constitution too frequently, they become a subject of political contestation.”