*It’s a product of military decree ― Fayemi
A former Vice-Chancellor of Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti, Professor Akin Oyebode has faulted the ongoing moves by the National Assembly to amend the 1999 constitution, saying what the country need is a new people’s oriented constitution.
Oyebode, a professor of International Law and Jurisprudence noted that there is no amount of amendment to the current 1999 constitution that would make things work for the country, adding that is difficult to review or amend what he described as a forged document.
The elder statesman spoke in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti state capital on Tuesday at a public consultation for the amendment of the 1999 constitution organised by the State Committee for the review of the constitution to collate the views and position of residents ahead of the zonal public hearing by the Senate slated for Friday in Akure, Ondo state capital.
He lamented the abandonment of the over 600 resolutions from the 2014 national conference by the present administration, maintaining that when implemented, it would address the lingering challenges bedeviling the country and set the nation on the path of progress and development.
According to him, ” There is nowhere the people came together to produce the 1999 constitution, it is a military document that does not cover the minds and aspirations of the people, it is an injurious constitution.
“I am sorry to disappoint the National Assembly members that the exercise they have commenced is needless because you can’t amend a forged document. We don’t have a constitution, what we have is a military arrangement and the earlier we know this, the better for our country.
“Let me say that when a document is irredeemably faulty, there is no amount of amendment that can make it work. The time is right to put an end to the lie that we are operating a republic, we are only pretending to be.”
Oyebode, who chaired the event however disclosed that the outcomes of the amendment process of the constitution by the national assembly must be subjected to a national referendum,” which will reflect the will and interests of the preponderance of the people.”
He carpeted the presidency’s reaction to the decision of the Southern Governors to ban open grazing, wondering,” I have not seen where a president will be challenging the decisions of state governors.”
Speaking, the Ekiti state governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi described the 1999 constitution as a product of military decree which is defective and fell short of expectations of people in the country.
He called on members of the committee to harmonize the concerns and aspirations of Ekiti people from the event and ensure that they are captured in the amendment process.
Fayemi said,” the step we are taking today is in recognition of the enormity and seriousness attached to the exercise of constitutional review of 1999 Constitution (as amended). We are all aware that the current 1999 Constitution that we are operating is a product of a Military Decree, and as a result, has been subject to endless criticism. One of the main criticisms is that the 1999 Constitution did not emanate from a process of consultation and involvement with the public, nor passed through any referendum.
“I have no doubt that with experienced members of the Committee, your deliberation will be robust, courageous and vibrant and your recommendations will express the greater aspirations of our people. There is no better time to exhibit and bring to bear your statesmanlike maturity, patriotic considerations and vision to help bring hope and dreams of the public to reality than now.
As you consult and deliberate, I urge you to bear carefully in mind the challenges of our past, the present and the projection for our future. I want you to consider every opinion and allow as many ideas as possible into the discussions.”
On his part, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Olawale Fapohunda while presenting the position of the state’s executive arm of government said the amendment process is necessary to guarantee the socio-economic development and progress of the state.
He said, ” Nigeria is buckling under the weight of sluggish economic growth, near intractable security concerns and a rise in the popularity of populous, fringe political elements threatening its very existence and the intricate political threads that have held, if precariously, the country together.
“The current constitutional review exercise is yet another opportunity for the country to re-examine where we are as a country and agree on practical steps on how to adapt our Constitution to the tasking and pressing demands of national governance and contemporary realities.
“For us in Ekiti State, we are actively participating in this Constitutional Review Process not simply for the sake of it but because we are determined to ensure that the final outcome of this process responds to some of the concerns that have dominated our socio-economic and political development. While undoubtedly there are issues that we share in common with most States in Nigeria, there are certain matters that will be subject of our focused attention.”
Fapohunda revealed that the state would be interested in four critical areas in the amendment process which include; holistic police reform, an effective policing system that would guarantee the safety of lives and property, the rights of women and true federalism with the devolution of more power to the federating units.
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