1999 Constitution, Nigeria’s greatest misadventure, says Akande
Pioneer Interim National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Bisi Akande has described the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, which was introduced by the military as the ground norm for the current democracy, as “Nigeria’s greatest misadventure since Lugard’s amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914.”
Akande who was Deputy-Governor in old Oyo State under late Chief Bola Ige and the first governor of Osun when the controversial constitution came into effect, called for the total abrogation of the document for a new one that will reflect the wishes and aspirations of Nigerians living in a united political entity.
Speaking yesterday in Akure, Ondo State capital where he was chairman at the presentation of a book, “Nigeria: the Path We Refused to Take,” written by Basorun Seinde Arogbofa, Akande whose view on national discourse has come to represent that of the leadership of the APC in the Southwest geo-political zone, said the 1999 Constitution was tailored to draw Nigeria back on all facets of socio-economic and political endeavours.
In a paper titled “The Ways To Nigeria’s Present Criminal Revolution,” Akande also blamed the resurgence of criminal acts in Nigeria on the inability of the country to face the situation squarely because of a system that promoted crime without enough mechanisms to control and curb it.
According to him, “The 1999 Constitution is Nigeria’s greatest misadventure since Lugard’s amalgamation of 1914. The constitution puts emphasis on spending rather than making money, thereby intensifying the battles for supremacy between the legislature and the executive while the judiciary is being corruptly tainted and discredited.
“The constitution breeds and protects corrupt practices and criminal impunities in governance. The 1999 Constitution can never be beneficially reviewed and the ongoing piecemeal adjustments or amendments can only totally blot the essence of national values and accelerate the de-amalgamation of Nigeria. All the angels coming from heavens cannot make that constitution work for the progress of Nigeria.
“It should only be scrapped as a bad relics of military mentality; and it ought to be temporarily replaced with the 1963 Republican Constitution to enable a transition for the writing of a suitable constitution. Otherwise, the 1999 constitution would continue to dwarf Nigeria’s economy and stifle the country’s social structure pending a disastrous and catastrophic bankruptcy.”
Akande blamed the military, saying its “involvement in politics for twenty-nine years out of Nigeria’s fifty, adventure that led Nigeria to the present ugly crossroads. Seven years of independence has drawn back and miniaturized the sense of democracy and good governance among Nigerian political leaders so much that political discussions are no longer issue-based or interesting.”
Linking Nigeria’s current position to the upsurge in criminality, Akande said, “A cardinal point in teacher education is that adolescence represents life’s transition when youths want to be like adults but they lack the confidence and the experience of selecting options among changing circumstances and for confronting challenges arising from varying universal problems.
“Apart from relatively few science students who perform token experiments of knowledge in their science laboratories, all other youths, including those having no advantage of going to school now, in Nigeria, largely find themselves inadvertently doing experiments of their knowledge among the societies of ‘yahoo-yahoo boys’, drug pushers, ‘419 advanced fraudsters’, ‘boko-harams’, ‘badoo ritual killers’ cults’, militant-terrorists, and several other gangs of hoodlums.
“This situation of violent criminality and insecurity with the incidences of waves of armed robberies, kidnappings, ritual killings, cattle rustlings, suicide bombings and treasury looting has exerted so much pressures on our security agents that cases like pickpocketing, shoplifting, knife crimes, raping, burglary and other common misdemeanors have totally become trivialised as mere pranks or jokes too insignificant for police attention.
“Already, the military that brought those situations to Nigeria have moved back to their barracks. Nigeria is left helplessly choosing newbreed leaders from among the youths who are struggling out, directly or indirectly, from the influence of the various societies of criminal gangs.
“All other emerging gentleman professionals, who are not in politics, are fast becoming grumblers and self-declared ‘misfits’ in most Nigerian societies, wondering if Nigeria can ever return to its old glories and workable attractions. They, in the meantime, are imagining where would be the place for their own children being presently brought up from elite environments.
“The Nigerian newbreed elected and selected leaders, judging from their societal backgrounds described above, find it difficult to be aware that Nigeria is ten years backward in road assets: it has 193,000 kilometers of bad roads instead of 300,000 of well paved roads; it requires not less than one trillion Naira annually to probably catch up by 2025. Some of the newbreed elected leaders do not even appreciate that the 60,000 kilometers of roads that are being claimed to have been paved out of Nigeria’s present 193,000 kilometers of bad roads have already been taken over by pot-holes. Such leaders are crowded in State capitals and Abuja, bluffing the rest of us at our roadless villages with fleets of exotic cars under their control.”
Recalling the past, Akande said, “In our days, Western Nigerian parents’ resistance to sending children to school was resolutely battled and degraded by the Obafemi Awolowo administration. Awolowo’s government thoughtfully opened technical schools; schools of agriculture, farm settlements and a marketing board for farm produce price stabilization. By making agriculture very profitable and beneficial for the developments of his people in the West, Awolowo made it so attractive that there was full youth employment.
“Even at a time, the Nigerian Federal Government was owing Awolowo’s administration in the Western Region a huge debt from the proceeds of farm commodities. That was why demands for revenue allocation by derivations (now being compared with ‘resource control’) were melodious in his political music.”