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Senate rules out calls for new Nigeria constitution

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President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan (left), and Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, during the session on the Sexual Harassment Bill and President Muhammadu Buhari’s Finance Bill 2019 in the Senate…yesterday.

Agitations for a new Nigeria constitution to pave way for total reform of the country’s ailing and comatose systems have hit a rock.

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At the public hearing on the review of the constitution in Abuja on Thursday, the Senate declared that although a completely new constitution to replace the current one was desirable, the extant law and does not support it.

Chairman, Senate Committee on Constitution review, and Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege, who made this known, noted that section nine of the constitution had already foreclosed a new constitution.

“Now, some of our compatriots have urged that rather than amending the Constitution, we should make a new Constitution all together. We respect this opinion, and we believe it is a most desirable proposition,” Omo-Agege said.

“However, we are conducting this exercise in accordance with the extant legal order, which is the 1999 Constitution.

“Specifically, Section 9 of the Constitution empowers the National Assembly to alter the provisions of the Constitution and prescribes the manner in which it is to be done. Unfortunately, it does not make similar provision or provide mechanism for replacing or re-writing an entirely new Constitution”

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According to Omo-Agege, “To embark on any process without prior alteration of Section 9 of the Constitution to provide the mode through which an entirely new Constitution could be made, would amount to gross violation of our oath of allegiance to the Constitution. In other words, it will take a new Constitutional amendment to be able to give Nigerians a most desired new Constitution. It would be unconstitutional to do otherwise.”

Senior lawyers like Aare Afe Babalola (SAN) had sought a totally new constitution for Nigeria.

The founder of Afe Babalola University Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD), Babalola, said the current 1999 constitution can not sufficiently address the socio-economic challenges currently pummeling the nation.

Babalola, who described the 1999 constitution as part of the problems of the country, advised President Muhammadu Buhari to consider the drafting of a new constitution that will capture the agitations of many Nigerians.

The legal luminary said there is a need to empower the different regions to effectively address the challenges of insecurity, unemployment, and poverty in their respective zones.

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The Senior Advocate of Nigeria expressed regret that the present crop of leaders are only interested in pursuing personal wealth at the deterrent of the system and the citizens.

According to him, “there is a very simple solution to the growing insecurity in the country and that is a new constitution.

“We need a new constitution where the different nations that were formed together can develop at their own pace. West was doing well during the old constitution, likewise the East and even the North but the one we are using now whose leaders see politics as the only lucrative business.

“We don’t need transactional leaders anymore, we want transformational leaders as you can see I am transforming this place.

“In the early years in 1960 people were not earning salaries but allowances and they were doing well but now you see people selling their property to contest election because of money they will get in the office, that is not the ideal thing. The solution is a new constitution for the people. We need people who will serve without earning salaries.”

Alao, speakers at the second Never Again Conference (NAC), which was held virtually in January 2021 had declared that only a new constitution, justice, equity, and obedience to the rule of law could guarantee Nigeria’s unity and stability.

The speakers are, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, Ayo Adebanjo, Mbazulike Amaechi, Peter Obi, Tanko Yakassai, Pat Utomi; Hakeem Baba Ahmed; Shehu Sani; Onyeka Onwenu; Godknows Igali; Ahmed Joda, Prof. Ladi Hamalai, Charity Shekari and Ankkio Briggs.


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