…blames Jonathan for non-implementation of Confab report
Former Legal Adviser to the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, Prof Auwal Yadudu, has told the President-General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief John Nwodo and Afenifere leader, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, to stop beating around the bush on restructuring, and follow the existing legal order in the 1999 Constitution.
Adebanjo and Nwodo had last week carpeted the 1999 Constitution, saying it was forced on Nigeria by the military.
But Prof Yadudu while speaking at the Zoom Conference organized by Governance Index Platform on the topic , “The Coronavirus Pandemic: Good Governance, Restructuring and the 1999 Constitution”, said it amounts to fallacy to keep saying the 1999 Constitution was imposed and Nigeria will go no further if it is not changed.
He explained that the Constitution was authored by a Committee Chaired by Late Justice Niki Tobi.
Narrating how the 1999 Constitution was adopted, the professor of law said the committee moved around the country and said Nigerians overwhelmingly demanded for 1979 Constitution.
He added that there is little difference between 1999 Constitution and 1979 Constitution.
He said: ” The mistake has been continuously made that this Constitution is a military constitution and we should have nothing to do with. They often say we would not make progress if we do not throw it into a ditch.
” My take on the 1999 Constitution is that , it was adopted along 1979 Constitution. You may say 1979 Constitution is an imposition by the military, but I think that basic structure of 1954, 1960 and 1963 constitutions has remained what it is .
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” You have a chapter on Fundamental Rights which as far as I can tell is also being improved upon. You have a chapter that defined the power of states and the executive, judiciary and legislature. You have a constitution with legislative list and exclusive and concurrent. What is in this feature that is uniquely an imposition of either on 1979 or 1999? It is not a perfect document. It can be improved on.
” It is a fallacy to keep saying it is an imposition and that we will go not further if we do not jettison it.
” If you want to discuss restructuring in relations to the constitution, stop beating around the bush , the existing legal order is the 1999 Constitution. It has ways and means of changing or jettisoning it.
” I don’t see any problem in restructuring. Whether you want to combine the whole South -West to become a region again or six zones to become a political entity and make it federation, or if you want confederation system, is not a problem.
“I think we can work within the existing legal order and you have no other basis for changing things except in accordance with an existing legal order. I know that the answer to that is that it is difficult to achieve, but wherever the constitution has been changed , they made use of what they have and of course, you can change by revolution, if you can afford it. You can enthrone whatever beautiful ideas that you want to enthrone not necessarily by reference to constitutional provision.
“I was a member of the committee that went round and got the view of Nigerians and at the end of the day it was reported that that Nigerians overwhelmingly supported return of 1979 Constitution with necessary amendment. So the Provisional Ruling Council had no role in writing anything. I was only part of the Committee chaired by late Justice Niki Tobi which adopted the recommendation that we should go back to 1979 Constitution.
“It will silly for anyone to say I wrote 1999 Constitution.”
He kicked against a provision in the constitution where the President is given a role to ascent to the Constitution.
Yadudu said:”If you go through the process of amending the Constitution, the National Assembly does it, state Assembly does it, public hearing takes place , and the amendment goes to state Assembly, it returns and goes to Mr. President, who could us a stroke of pen to strike it down. I think it is wrong. It is not in the spirit of presidential system. Even in the US, amended constitution does not give arbitrary power to the President.”
On 2014 National Conference, Yadudu blamed former President Goodluck Jonathan for non-implementation of Its report, saying the committee submitted its report within a stipulated date.
He said:” The timing he chooses was dictated when the report went to him. We concluded on August 14, submitted the report in the first week of September. He had the whole year to.what he wishes with the report, but he did nothing about it. You cannot accuse me of that. It was the President who chose a wrong time and even when it was handed over to him , he did nothing not even a single recommendation in it.
Also speaking, Dr. Sam Amadi, kicked against continuous amendment of the constitution.
He said: “I am not a supporter of continuous amendment of the constitution. The theory from political scientists is that the most stable constitutions are those constitutions that have not been altered because when you amend a constitution too frequently, they create a subject of political contestation .”