By Ibrahim HassanWuyo
Director General of Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies (MINILLIS),Comrade Issa Aremu, has said that the current review of 1999 Constitution by the National Assembly must deepen democracy and constitutionalism as well as strengthen national unity in order to justify the time and resources allocated to it.
Aremu spoke at the weekend in Kaduna during a prayers session and reception held by friends and relatives in his honour, following his recent appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Aremu who hailed President Buhari’s administration and the leadership of the 9th National Assembly for providing “vent for the citizens” to evaluate the operation of 1999 Constitution promulgated in 1999 after the demise of military,said the enthusiasm and mass inputs at the Zonal levels on the identified areas of alterations showed that Nigeria is a “democracy destination, alive and working, not a failed state as promoted by African pessimists”.
“So far the good, the bad and even the ugly presentations at Zonal and National public hearings show that Nigeria has come of age in democratic practices since 1999”, he said.
Comrade Aremu who is also a member of National Institute, Kuru Jos however advised that the current Constitution review exercise must consolidate on the democratic gains of the past achievements and open new frontiers for new rights and responsibilities for national development.
The Director General said with 1999 constitution “with all its assumed flaws” had ushered in uninterrupted democratic rule for 21 years, with 6 democratic presidential elections, hundreds of states elections and bye elections and what he called “testy transition” following the death of President Umaru Musa Yar Adua in 2010.
Aremu also disagreed that 1999 constitution was “military imposed” adding that 1999 constitution was a product of dated decade long struggles for democratization and resistance against military rule.
“Twenty years make up good time to reflect but we should not diminish the democratic gains under the 1999 constitution which guarantees freedoms of association, of press and rights to parties formation, to contest, vote and be voted for,” he said.
While supporting the devolution of some powers and resources to the states, Aremu warned “against weakening of the Federal power in the conditions of economic crisis, mass poverty, pandemic and insecurity”.
He warned against what he called “ the Road to Tigre/ Ethiopia” in which “additive constitutional amendments privileged the regions against the center and ambitious politicians in Tigre region had plunged Ethiopia into what he called “avoidable war of attritions” .
He said for a developing nation with diverse population and challenges of wealth creation, critical factors like labour, Army and policing, finance and banking, Railways, Aviation, Power must be on exclusive list failing which national development plans are not sustainable.