Catholic Archbishop Emeritus of Lagos, Anthony Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie, has said Nigeria needed to be rescued from the 1999 Constitution, as it created a leadership that benefits only the elite and, ironically, facilitates poverty, insecurity and insurgency.
He said this in his 60th independence anniversary message to Nigerians, entitled: “A change of heart for Nigeria’s 60th independence anniversary”, noting that with a big and expensive government the constitution created, little is left for the welfare of Nigerians.
The Catholic priest maintained that it would be dangerous to leave this Constitution as it is and that the injustice inherent in the Constitution cannot be redressed piecemeal.
ALSO READ: Constitution review or a new charter?
Cardinal Okogie’s message read in part: “Nigeria needs to be rescued from the 1999 Constitution. That Constitution set up a government in a way that is unfair to the people of Nigeria.
“It is an irony that a foundational document such as a country’s constitution, a document that ought to facilitate and protect our land and our well-being, sets up Nigeria in a way that facilitates insecurity, poverty and insurgency.
“Nigeria needs to be rescued from the big, expensive and overbearing but uncaring government that has emerged as a result of this Constitution; from the kind of leadership that has emerged from the 1999 Constitution.
“Only the political elite can benefit from this Constitution. The poor masses cannot. That is why the first line of resistance to restructuring is constituted by those who benefit from the Constitution.
“We need to be rescued from a Constitution that has set up the most expensive government on the African continent. With a big and expensive government, little is left for the welfare of the Nigerian.
“The desire to be part of this big and expensive government has led us into the firm grips of an electoral process whose integrity is regularly violated.
“The end of politics is seen as the attainment of power for the sake of power. Whoever is perceived as standing in the way is either maligned or mauled.
“Vote rigging, vote-buying and vote-stealing have done immeasurable damage to the electoral process. Our political actors cross from one party to another without any regard for philosophy.
“The desire to control the parties has led to the absence of intra-party democracy. Each party exists to provide a platform for power-sharing,” Anthony Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie added.