By Okechukwu Ndiribe
Prof. Gordini Darah, a delegate representing Delta State at the National Conference has reminded his fellow members at the the ongoing National conference on the importance of improving the 1999 constitution.
While answering questions on the preamble of the 1999 Constitution, Darah faulted the document saying it was just incorporated by the military to give the impression that the constitution reflected the will of the Nigerian people.
“Of course, you could say we went for a Constitutional Conference in 1976 under the Obasanjo-Murtala Mohammed regime. Then we went for another one between 1988 and 1989. There was a conference during the regime of the late Gen. Sani Abacha.
The drafters of the 1999 Constitution could claim that the document emanated from consultations with different layers of society. It is a popular phrase that you find in most democratic constitutions all over the world. It is now we are going to give substance to that statement.”
He said the most defining feature of the constitution is the over-centralization of political power and administration which suited the then centralized military command.
Loyalty to the military’s central command was a requirement. A civilian regime operates from a different perspective. It operates from a system of decentralized and diversified source of power.
“This is because the people who are going to govern need to be elected. And the electorate, are the people they must account to. So, the present constitution is inappropriate first for a civilian regime, secondly for a federal society.
The federal system is known for power decentralization in which there is a central government which is coordinate with the governments of the federating units and not superior to them.
“On behalf of Delta State for which I am speaking, we advocate 100 percent control of our resources out of which an agreed percentage of our revenue would be paid to the central government for maintaining and running essential services.
If adopted, this will unleash creativity, energy and investment. It will make Nigeria competitive and enable the country to catch up with those it began the race of nationhood and economic development.” He concluded.