Why Nigeria must scrap ‘military-made’ 1999 constitution — Afe Babalola

Legal luminary Afe Babalola (SAN) has urged the National Assembly to replace the military-made 1999 constitution with the 1963 constitution designed by the Nigerian people.

He said the 1999 constitution would not solve Nigeria’s problems and asserted that the 1999 constitution was made by the military, “which, in its wisdom,” claimed that the people made it.

“The said constitution says, among other things, that ‘We the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, having firmly and solemnly resolved…do hereby make and give to ourselves the following…’ Of course, this claim is false,” Mr Babalola pointed out.

“The truth is that there is no way the national assembly can amend the 1999 constitution to cure inherent defects in the 1999 constitution. First, you cannot cure fraud,” he asserted. “Second, it is impossible, by way of amendment, to take away the military system of government under the 1999 constitution or the power and control of public funds by the president.

According to him, the root cause of the nation’s current problems is the 1999 constitution, foisted on it by the military in 1999.

“The fact remains that you cannot amend a coconut tree which has no branches to become an iroko tree which has branches,” he further said.

Mr Babalola gave the advice in a statement he signed in Ado Ekiti on Wednesday.

“Alternatively, since the amendment in law includes substitution for an existing document, why is it that the national assembly cannot call for a public hearing on the substitution of the 1999 constitution for the 1963 constitution, which was made with the consent of the people?” he argued.

The legal icon expressed doubts that amending the 1999 constitution as being contemplated by the national assembly would adequately address the nation’s problems.

In the alternative, the founder of Afe Babalola University suggested the convocation of a national conference to accommodate all shades of opinions on how to move the country forward.

“Against the background of the massive demand by Nigerians at home and abroad for a true federal constitution made by the people and for the people, the national assembly is calling for public hearing in the country’s six geo-political zones for people’s inputs on any issue of interest to enable it (to) amend the 1999 constitution, but I have reservations on this,” said Mr Babalola.

Continuing, he stated,” To me, the proposed amendment to the 1999 constitution by the national assembly: whichever way you look at it, is a futile exercise.

“We all know that previous sessions of national assembly made laws to convene a national conference. I, therefore, advise that the current national assembly should call for a national conference to discuss and make a new, true federal constitution which will provide for a parliamentary system of government.”

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