JUST IN: Sanwo-Olu, Anyaoku, Adebanjo, Others Clamour For New Constitution

Sanwo-Olu, Fashola Call For Urgent Sacrifices To Help Vulnerable

Sanwo-Olu, Anyaoku, Adebanjo, Others Clamour For New Constitution

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State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and other prominent , including former Commonwealth Secretary-General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku; Afenifere chieftain, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, members of the National Assembly and former governors yesterday clamoured for a new Constitution that would reflect true federalism and address the problems 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 directly elected Constituent Assembly on a non- basis for producing a widely desired constitution for Nigerians.

Governor Sanwo-Olu and the national leaders spoke 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 , Prof. Ben Nwabueze.

Others who attended the held at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Victoria Island, Lagos, include secretary to the , Barr. Bimbola Salu-Hundeyin; Senators Aminu Tambuwal and Gbenga Daniel; and 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 senior lawyers Mike Ozekhome (SAN) and Mr. Tunji Abayomi; President of Arewa Consultative Forum, Alhaji Yerima Shettima; former deputy national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (), 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.    

Governor Sanwo-Olu in his address backed the agitation for a truly federal constitution for Nigeria to devolve power to the states and urged 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, “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 take this conversation and make it 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 1,000 kilometres 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.

The governor noted that the late Prof. Nwabueze fought for true federalism 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. 

“I don't know what is wrong at the federal level because you would see state officials fighting the same cause, the moment they get to federal they change 360 degrees and begin to fight the same thing that they supported at the state,” he stated.

On his part, 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, in order 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 had 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, represents 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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