By Aare Afe Babalola
I HAVE received several responses from readers on the need for the convocation of a Sovereign National Conference before the next general elections scheduled for 2023.
I welcome these responses and thank the writers for taking the time to comment on an issue of such national importance. Unfortunately there is no space to publish all the responses. This week, I will publish some:
*1. Thanks, Baba Afe Babalola. Your piece about the need for restructuring comes at the right time.
The 1999 Constitution was written entirely by one man – Professor Awalu, the Legal Adviser to the late General Sani Abacha of lamentable memory. That document encroached further by grabbing the remnants of the States/Regional powers.
Sir, let’s look at the so-called Unwritten Constitution of the UK. That Isle has steadily been devolving authorities to its constituent parts – England(56 million), Scotland (6 million), Wales (3 million), and Northern Ireland (two million). The nations are semi-autonomous, living under both united and separate flags, especially, Scotland, with its own parliament, long history and legal systems.
Sir, can I possibly comment on other federal units across the globe? In the USA whose system we have been operating since 1979, each of the 50 states is somehow autonomous. They pay taxes to Washington, and that’s why the state of California can easily claim to be the seventh richest nation on earth.
Concurrent and exclusive legislation
The state of Texas is oil-rich; it also pays a graduated tax to Washington. That state could also claim to be one the richest in the world. With regard to state policing in America, the states and their counties are responsible for security systems. The Federal Government has the CIA, the FBI and the Federal Guards.
They complement one another on security. Same in Canada, India, Switzerland, etc. Here in Nigeria, Abuja is all-in-all! Regarding the concurrent and exclusive legislation, Abuja is also the master.
Every conceivable item concerning the States/Regions have been subjected and subdued to Lagos/Abuja over the years. Yes, the 1979 Constitution was put in place under Timi the Law, and assisted by that erudite Eastern region professor of Law.
That document corralled ALL regional legislative pieces to the Center.
It subverts the authorities of the regions viz-a-viz the center. Actually, the grabbing predated the 1979 era.
It started during and after the Civil War when it became evident that proceeds from crude oil MUST be subordinated to the Center for development of certain parts of the country that was – and perhaps still bereft of resources!
Sir, the tragedy is this: many a Southerner and Middle Belt personality are involved in the steady erosion of the powers of their respective Regions. Sad, but true. Have a nice day, Sir. (From rtd. Amb. L. Tunde Bade-Afuye, PhD.)
*2. I have read carefully the submission of Aare Afe Babalola SAN CFR, on primarily the matter of the 1999 Constitution, raging poverty in our country and the resulting hunger leading to unbelievable crime surge. I want to thank and appreciate him for spending his valuable time giving us and next generations HOPE!
I believe that his treatment of the above subject matter is wholesale(what is to be done to keep us together as we were) and in the interest of corporate Nigeria, that is, the origin for these emerging issues is imbedded in the 1999 Constitution and the need to convene a sovereign national conference, SNC, to revert to pre-military intervention in 1966.
It is clear that we were individually and collectively happier prior to 1966 than now. It does appear that the world is just moving past us mainly because of our attitude and inability to accept “merit” as the fundamental basis for growth and development.
I do support the need for restructuring to ensure that we put forward our ‘best foot’ always. But restructuring by itself will input the evil inherent in the ‘bigger’ body to distributed smaller ones. So the approach is to agree on how and the basis of our association first and cure the those manifested negatives in the current relationship.
I am hoping that the SNC would accept merit as the cornerstone for our corporate existence. Look, for example, at Canada and perhaps Australia that have become a haven for our recent graduates?
As long as we do not provide an environment that enshrine merit and renounce Federal Character-this issue of SNC and Constitution is unlikely to revert the massive brain drain and unsustainable poverty in our land.
READ ALSO: ACF to FG: Respect rule of law
—O Ibidapo-Obe FAS, OFR Distinguished Professor.
*3. Dear Sir,
Your first Newspaper article on the imperative of Sovereign National Conference for Nigeria in year 2020 was very insightful and thought-provoking. The article prescribes the solution to the very foundation of the numerous challenges confronting our nation.
Nigeria, as a nation, has been crawling in terms of development since the mid-sixties because it is yet to recover from the twin evils: “military intervention and oil boom” which bedevilled the country in her first decade of nationhood.
The 1999 Military Constitution is the albatross of the country. It begins with falsehood “we the people of Nigeria”… and continued with contradiction and paradoxes. No amount of amendment can change falsehood into truth.
“A bod tree will continue to produce bod fruits“. The system of leadership recruitment process in this constitution will continue to produce contractors and businessmen as leaders, putting wrong people in right places thrusting mediocres into positions of authority.
Nigerians must take over their country from military despots and their sycophantic collaborators. A people’s Constitution produced by a properly convoked Sovereign National Conference before the 2023 election remains the only way out of the present predicament. The Yoruba Council of Elders Worldwide supports this initiative as enunciated in your article under reference.
—Dr. Kunle Olajide Aare of Efon Kingdom. The Secretary General Yoruba Council of Elders.
It is my wish, hope and prayer that the government will heed this call and put in place measures for the holding of a Sovereign National Conference. We cannot continue to amend the Military Constitution as we have been doing since 1999.
We owe it to generations of Nigerians unborn to bequeath to them a country devoid of the self- inflicted problems which continue to threaten the existence and progress of our nation. Let us strive to leave a legacy of unity, peace and security. Let us rekindle their faith that a united and prosperous Nigeria is achievable.
More comments will be published later.