Saturday, 3rd June 2023

On your marks, set, freeze!

By Segun Olatunji
10 November 2022   |   2:03 am
We are consumed by this mass hysteria called campaign: we are placing the cart before the horse and desperately striving to force a square peg into a round hole.

We are consumed by this mass hysteria called campaign: we are placing the cart before the horse and desperately striving to force a square peg into a round hole. We all are aware of the copious deficiencies of the current constitution making it inoperable. And instead of curing the these deficiencies, we are stupidly stampeding into elections at the expense of fashioning a constitution that is capable of responding to our broad challenges of security, reconciliation, inclusion and socio-economic development in a way that is customized to our country-specific contexts; thereby, making governance simple,  easy, accountable, transparent, predictable and fun!

There is nothing sacrosanct about the dates of the elections. The dates can be postponed without altering the swearing-in date. Even, if the dates of the elections are tarried for two to three months, so what? As long as we get it right by having constitution that adapts to our concrete realities and to impact of globalization on our national laws. There is no constitution that is all-encompassing and omniscience and deficiency-proof, but the dialectic relationships between constitutional reform, and sustainability and stability must be minimal. Our present constitution is on dialysis pleading for urgent and immediate attention, in which absence the country will cease to exit: not a matter of if but when!

It is of utmost prudence and fairness not to foist the current constitution on the incoming executives and the NASS’s members. Most of the remedies the prevailing constitution warrants are urgent albeit political which make consensus or required majority almost impossible. We do not anticipate NASS to excise one of its chambers on its own accord or reach a decision on whether it should be part-time or even restructuring of the nation. You do not task a fox with the job of guarding a brood of chickens!  These aforementioned issues chaperone the exigency of constitutional imperatives; or else, we shall soon be quarries of constitutional hamartia!

We are climbing a tree from the top. As you lay your bed so you lie on it: ex nihi to inhit fit (out of nothing, nothing comes). Neither fundamental issues bedeviling our constitution be left to chance, nor be saddled the new legislators. The issues must be predetermined now before the newly elected officials are sworn in: 1.provision for unicameralism or bicameralism; 2; recall provision of elected officials through plebiscites; 3. introduction of new issues through plebiscites, locally or nationally; 4. provision for independent candidates; 5. provision for state and local government police; 6. provision for fiscal arrangement between the federal and the units, and among the federating units; 7. remuneration and perks for NASS’s members; 8. provision comparable to USA’s Equal Protection Clause, Fourteenth Amendment; 9. strict punitive measures—including public execution— for some crimes like looting more than #1B; 10. provision of penalties for non-voting; 11. provision for diaspora voting; 12. fairness in gender distribution in appointed and elective positions; 13. equal acknowledgment of the three main religions (Islam, Christianity and traditional), including holidays; 14. provision for free public education from primary to university; 15. qualifications for public officials, elected or appointed; 16. requirements for secession; 17. provision for public funding of elections so as to preclude elected officials money can buy; 18. constitutionality of prolonged detention; 19. provision for free coverage for basic health care; 20. provision for statism or regionalism; and etc.

Without much ado, NASS and the executives possess neither the political will nor the detribalized and secularized proclivities to birth a functional and durable constitution for our heterogeneity. For the past 22 years, NASS has only conducted non-essential and emollient changes to the constitution. We cannot tarry any longer for NASS to do the needful. We are already disillusioned with mere expressive and palliative changes. We crave for instrumental and curative changes. Thus, we can simultaneously fashion a country-specific constitution while campaigning goes on. The synthesis of germane parts of numerous reports of constitution review committees can be consummated within a month to 2 months (starting from December to January by 111 representatives (3 from each state including Abuja) before elections take place or before the swearing-in dates on a reversed and an updated constitution.

Prioritizing elections over viable, workable and dynamic constitution is a very good preparation for widening poverty, enforcing underdevelopment, proliferating corruption, encouraging secessionism, propping up mediocre officials, spreading illiteracy, welcoming coups, and embracing disintegration of Nigeria. Hence, there is no short-cut to climbing a palm tree, as you ascend it, so you descend. A corrupt and pathetic system would only breed army of kleptomaniacs. Even saints cannot escape being infested with this vices- laden system.

Moreover, good governance does not occur by fortuitousness; it must be well planned. Or else, we are ministrating tragic flaws with explosive capabilities. Ipso facto, we deserve the necessary changes (mutatis mutandis) urgently. The system for positively impacting sound governance must precede swearing-in before we can benefit from self-adjusting constitution, accountability, transparency, mass participation, stability and sustainability. A word to the wise is sufficient—vebatim sapient, sat esta.
Olatunji wrote from Lagos.


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