NIGERIA’S 1963 Republican Constitution, if modified and adopted, may be what will, reasonably, suit the present overwhelming demands for a new Constitution for the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Itse Sagay, respected legal expert and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, has suggested that the 1963 Republican Constitution should replace the present, flawed and strongly criticised 1999 Constitution, handed to the country by the military.
“My own personal preference is that we should scrap this Constitution and adopt the 1963 Republican Constitution. That Constitution contained everything that is being agitated for now. If we had that, if we adopted it, with amendments here and there, to make it accommodate states that we have now rather than region, I think all these agitations will die down and everybody will be happy”, Sagay said, Monday night, during Channels Television programme Politics Today.
Sagay is however, worried if President Buhari would surmount the odds, to toe his line of thought, why answering questing whether the president would like to toe that direction.
Sagay’s response was: “I really don’t know, but his party headed by him, commissioned the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Nasir Committee to work on the issue of federalism and they have come out with an excellent document and all we need to do is to implement them. And if they are to be implemented as I said, it will be probably implemented in a totally new constitution instead of trying to amend the existing one.
“I am personally disappointed that that excellent document is being allowed to gather dust and I think the leaders of the party should now bring it out and go to the President and say, we should now make a move to implement what we ourselves commissioned and have approved because that is what the whole country wants now,” Sagay said.
Sagay is the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, of President Buhari’s government. He described the present 1999 Constitution as unitary constitution and not a federal constitution. “What we have now is a unitary constitution parading itself as a federal constitution,” and added that Nigeria needs clear departure from the existing document.
Nigeria has been enmeshed in fierce debate for decades, from eminent Nigerians and scholars in the country over the legitimacy of the 1999 Constitution, which the military handed over to Democratic Nigerian in 1999; under the cover of the peoples constitution. At best, many see the 1999 Constitution as a “Military Decree”, handed over to the democratically elected government.
CONSTITUTION is the heart and soul of any nation, and it binds the people together. The 1999 Constitution foisted on Nigerians by the military is not only seen as a defective constitution; but also does not properly reflect the nation’s diversity and complexities. Legal experts and Nigeria’s supreme court, in the past few decades have driven home this point.
Nigerians in different views have expressed reservation about the 1999 Constitution, describing it as a “fraud”, a “document that tells lie against itself”, and “illogicality”. It is also described as “Unitary Constitution for a Federal System of Government”.
National Conferences and the Nigerian Legislature have either attempted to redraw or review the Constitution to properly reflect the nation’s diversity and complexities. The attempts have not yielded concrete results. Neither has it improved the defects in the 1999 Constitution.