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Southern leaders of thought: 1999 constitution should be abolished, not restructured

Southern leaders of thought: 1999 constitution should be abolished, not restructured
August 25
07:56 2017

The southern leaders of thought, led by Ben Nwabueze, elder statesman, says Nigeria needs a new constitution for it to be effectively restructured.

Rising from their meeting in Lagos on Thursday, the leaders said the 1999 Constitution should pave way for a new constitution approved by the people.

The constitution is currently being reviewed by the national assembly. Pundits believe its review will address some loopholes in the nation’s existence.

But the leaders said “restructuring is not a matter that can be implemented by amendment of the 1999 Constitution” as it “imperatively requires a new Constitution adopted or approved by the people at a referendum”.

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They said the way forward for Nigeria is for the people, to make, through a referendum, a new constitution, “consisting a new political order” and which will restore “the kind of federalism that existed under our 1960/1963 constitutions”.

The leaders also said the national assembly is making itself “a big obstacle in the way of restructuring” with the “wrong” assertion that the 1999 constitution cannot be repealed.

“It is sad that, while a clamour for restructuring is reaching a crescendo and is sweeping across the country, the National Assembly is still regaling us with talks about constitution amendment, and is buttressing its position by the erroneous assertion that the 1999 Constitution can only be amended or altered (sections 8 and 9), but cannot be abolished and replaced by a new constitution,” they said.

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“The view that the 1999 constitution cannot be completely abolished and replaced by a new constitution is erroneous because the National Assembly fails to take into account the fact that the 1999 constitution is only a schedule to Decree 24 of 1999.

“That decree is an existing law under section 315 of the 1999 Constitution and, like all existing laws within federal competence, can be repealed by the National Assembly. Upon the repeal of the decree, the 1999 Constitution completely disappears from existence.”

They added that “negotiated restructuring” implemented under a new constitution, is “the best assurance for the realisation of our desire for one Nigeria”.

Members of the group include Emeka Anyaoku, former Commonwealth secretary general; Ayo Adebanjo, Alani Akinrinade, Pat Utomi, Solomon Asemota, Sola Ehindero, Akin Oyebode, Idika Kalu, among others.

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