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Ben Nwabueze Dialogue: Sanwo-Olu, Anyaoku, Adebanjo, Bode George, others canvass for new Constitution

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.We’re willing to complete the task Nwabueze started over 60 years ago –Governor

 

Ibrahim Quadri

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Monday joined former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku; Afenifere chieftain, Pa. Ayo Adebanjo, members of the National Assembly, former governors and eminent national leaders to demand for a new Nigerian Constitution that would reflect true federalism and address the problem of the country.

They said Nigeria has two options in getting a truly federal constitution by either adopting the recommendations of the 2014 National Confab or go for a relatively inexpensive Constituent Assembly on a non-party basis for producing a widely desired constitution for Nigerians.

 

 

Sanwo-Olu and the eminent national leaders spoke on Monday during the National Constitutional Dialogue organised by The Patriots, a Pan Nigerian Group of Eminent National Leaders of Thought, with the theme: ‘Lawful procedures for actualising a People’s Constitution for Nigeria’ in honour of the late renowned constitutional lawyer, Prof. Ben Nwabueze.

 

 

 

The event, held at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Victoria Island, Lagos was attended by Governor Sanwo-Olu, Chief Anyaoku, Pa Adebanjo, the Secretary to the Lagos State Government; Senators Aminu Tambuwal and Gbenga Daniel; former Governors Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Donald Duke (Cross River), James Ibori (Delta), Victor Attah (Akwa Ibom) and Rauf Aregbesola (Osun).

 

 

 

Others were constitutional lawyers Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) and Mr. Tunji Abayomi; President of Arewa Youths Consultative Forum, Alhaji Yerima Shettima; former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olabode George and other eminent leaders and pro-democracy activists, Prof. Anthony Kila, Dr. Idika Kalu, Elder Solomon Asemota and Comrade Wale Okunniyi, among others.

 

 

 

Speaking at the event, Governor Sanwo-Olu backed the agitation for a true federal constitution for Nigeria to devolve power to the states and charged the National Assembly to put a legal framework in place for the birth of a new constitution that would be determined by the Nigerian people.

 

 

 

He said the conversation around the making of a new constitution should be driven further. “If eminent Nigerians; people who have used better parts of their time serving this country have a conversation and we cannot take it forward and make sure that we have a complete solution, then we are wasting our time. Given the number of people that are here, we should make this conversation very effective. Many speakers have said that it is not the National Assembly that will make those amendments and it makes a lot of logical sense. It is for the National Assembly to constitute a law where people will come together and make those amendments themselves.

 

 

 

“I stand here as a leader of the largest state. How well do we see the anomalies that we have in our country? Why would a federal agency come to control the water in front of Ozumba Mbadiwe? Why would a federal agency of 1,000 kilometers away come to see the needs of my people in Ozumba Mbadiwe? Those are some of the things that we need to take forward and say that indeed we need to have a true federating state and be able to amend this constitution.

 

 

 

“I am a willing convert. Whatever we need to do now, there are so many serving and former governors here, let us make the changes that we desire and let the soul of Prof. Ben Nwabueze rest in peace because this is something that he fought for over 60 years of his life. And we are still here talking about it. We have the opportunity to make those changes now and I stand here to say to you that we are willing to work with you to make those changes.”

 

 

 

Speaking earlier, Anyaoku called for a Constituent Assembly to midwife a new constitution, saying the current 1999 constitution lacks the legitimacy expected in a pluralistic country like Nigeria.

 

 

 

Anyaoku, the Chairman of The Patriots said the present constitution is not suitable to address the myriad challenges confronting Nigeria and called for the adoption of the recommendations of the 2014 national conference or the conduct of an “inexpensive” constituent assembly that would be nonpartisan to have a truly federal constitution.

 

 

 

He said: “Our present 1999 constitution as amended not only lacks the legitimacy that flows from a democratically made constitution but also has proved to be unsuitable for tackling many of the serious challenges confronting our country. It is a widely recognised fact that the crucial areas of the country have significantly deteriorated and continue to deteriorate.”

 

 

 

He said Nigeria has suffered deterioration on many fronts in the area of security of the citizens’ lives and properties, economic well-being of the citizens, infrastructure including roads and education and health facilities, social cohesion and social values, and the sense of national unity.

 

 

 

Elder statesman and Afenifere chieftain, Chief Ayo Adebanjo called for the implementation of the 2014 National Conference, which according to him represented how the people of Nigeria want to be governed considering the representation of the people from different parts of the country that attended the national conference.

 

 

 

He said what Nigeria needs is a brand new constitution and not the amendment of the current constitution, which the National Assembly wants to embark on.

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