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Activist expresses doubt over constitution amendment

By Victor Ahiuma-Young & Temitope Titilope
LAGOS Lawyer and human rights activist, Mr. Bamidele Aturu, Thursday at the 14th Kolagbodi Memorial Lecture, said the recent tinkering with the constitution of Nigerian in order to deal with the crisis of succession among the constituent elements of the state, had made the issue of an authentic constitutional framework for the development of Nigeria topical and urgent.

Delivering the annual lecture entitled, Nigerian Labour Movement and the Making of an Authentic Constitutional Framework for the Development of Nigeria, Mr. Aturu argued that since 1922 when the first Constitution was made by the colonialists up to 2010 when some sections of the existing 1999 Constitution were purportedly amended, certain issues had been recurrent.

At the programme organised by Kolagbodi Memorial Foundation, KMF, and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, FES, he said: “First, there is unanimity, surprisingly across class, region and gender that the people of Nigeria have never made for themselves any Constitution.

“In other words, all the constitutions without any exception are impositions.” on the people by the dominant forces that organize or constitute the Nigerian state at any particular point in time.

As S.C. Ugoh rightly observed, ‘there has been a clear evidence of a continuing commitment to an elitist, non_transparent, non-inclusive and undemocratic approach to constitution_making’. Second and more fundamentally, the Constitutions are not ideologically neutral and are essentially the same on the fundamental issues of accumulation of capital and control of power.”

Mr. Aturu, a former convener, United Action for Democracy, UAD, argued that the labour movement could afford to treat constitution_making as a mere academic or reformist exercise of writing its wishes into the basic law upon which all other laws depend.

According to him: “While we have argued that it cannot shun even the talk shops periodically organized in the guise of fashioning new constitutions (as that also constitutes an avenue for exposing the fraud and limitations of the existing state), it must understand that constitution writing is about reconstituting the Nigerian State. The road to the reconstitution of the Nigerian state is the road to political power by the working people of Nigeria and their allies. It is a road of political struggles and there can be no shortcuts.

To wage political struggles effectively and successfully the labour movement needs a Vanguard Political Party. Of course, there are various options.

While I prefer the fusion of the existing five radical left political parties as the Working People’s Party and the adoption of the Manifesto of the Working People’s Party formed in 2001 but which was killed by the intrigues in the labour movement, the other options of forming a new political party or reinventing the labour party are still open to the movement.

Whatever option we choose ultimately, it is clear that we cannot but form a vanguard party unless we want to betray our historic mission of reconstituting the Nigerian State with the working people as the dominant class.”


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