ON THE SENATE REVIEW OF THE Constitution.
Referencing The position of the Yorùbá Nation regarding Restructuring and the lately taken posturing of the National Assembly!
With the recent comments from the Northern Elders Forum on the planned review of the constitution by the Senate, there is now a unanimity from all sections of the country to jettison the 1999 Constitution and fashion a new one acceptable to all Nigerians. The banditry and insurgency ravaging the north, coupled with the dire state of the economy may have concentrated the minds of our northern brothers to what we have been saying all along- We need to sit down together to determine anew how different sections of our country would live together!.
Years after independence it’s no longer news that Nigeria had continued to falter, fumble and wobble in a morass of administrative confusion due primarily to structural defect occasioned by a series of military incursions that dissolved regionalism in favor of a centralized structure that finally forced a skewed constitution on the nation.
The Yorùbá will not forget the evil done to them in the annulment of the June 12 1993 elections and all the other events culminating into the birth of the obnoxious 1999 Constitution written mostly by the then Attorney General, Yadudu.
We can never forget the blood of our sons and daughters upon which this unworkable constitution was berthed.
Northern Elders Forum (NEF) sees the planned review as an exercise in futility and wastefulness. This is based on previous attempts and the little delivered in satisfying the concerns of majority of the country. The Yoruba Summit Group(YSG) cannot fault the NEF on this.
The YSG further agrees that “Nigeria’s future rests largely on its willingness to address major constraints to equity and justice, a functional structure, consistent good governance, security for all citizens, a credible electoral process, growing understanding between and among all groups and an economy that grows and narrows inequalities between and classes and regions. This cannot be achieved by a process that routinizes wasteful expenditure around false hopes.”
While the incumbents are ever ready to assert that the Senate is the path recognised to amend the constitution, it is not difficult to see the reluctance of the National Assembly to do what is needful. The truth is, the bi-cameral legislature and the presidential system is unsustainable, given the state of our economy. The Parliamentary system is what is needed and it would require sustained pressure from all sections of the country for our senators to tow the path of patriotism rather than their personal benefits and ambition. Hence we agree with The NEF’s recommendation for leaders of thought, elders, groups and professional organizations and representatives of government to freely discuss every element of our co-existence as a country.
YSG is aware of all sorts of tricks and delay tactics that can be used to dampen the clamour for the restructuring of this country, this review embarked upon when 2023 is around the corner, may be one of them.
If the senate is honest and serious about solving the constitutional problems, they have enough information and resources at their disposal to use and do what is right without a time-wasting call for memoranda. The 2014 CONFAB report and the Draft Constitution by Afẹ́nifẹ́re, Voice of Reason, among others, are available and in the public domain.
The Nigerian polity is bursting in her seams and has very few credible options for survival left. The Covid-19 Pandemic and the attendant decline in world economy should tell us not to expect any help soon from abroad. A teeming unemployed youth population, rising food prices, seemingly unstoppable insurgency and banditry, low morale in the Army and the recent events in Mali should tell our senators that Time is indeed of essence.
The YSG would therefore recommend
1. that NASS should set up a Technical CONSTITUTION DRAFTING Committee to work out a new framework into a document as basis for all ethnic nationalities to live in peace as collaborative neighbours, using existing documents in the public domain.
2. The Committee should be mandated to produce guidelines that will facilitate the voluntary reconfiguration and realignments by ethnic nationalities, sub-ethnic nationalities, clans and communities as would later form the basis of their mutual accommodation to live together in a True Federation or to actively seek self determination in order to actualize their God-given human rights under international laws.
3. The outcome is to be the subject of a National Referendum in order to secure the consent of the Nigerian people.
4. National Assembly to adopt the Doctrine of Necessity once again, by making the Law with provisions on processes to guide the historic transition from the 1999 Constitution until the enactment of a new Constitutional order is attained.
The new order shall be the basis of any further elections in Nigeria. This means that there should be no election before this exercise is completed. Waiting till 2023 without providing a brand new framework for mutual coexistence is a gamble no patriot should be willing to take.
The YSG, hereby extends a hand of fellowship to our brethren in the Northern Elders Forum and other community leaders in the Southern and Middle Belt Regions toward making the above proposals for peaceful and orderly change possible, so that all communities can have their faith restored in a nation where justice, fairness and equity shall reign once again.
Mogaji Gboyega Adejumo.
Publicly Secretary, Yoruba Summit Group