THE pan-Yoruba sociopolitical group, Afenifere, has maintained that only the adoption of the 2014 national conference and restructuring of Nigeria can help to address all the ongoing agitations in the country, and not the review of the existing constitution as being worked upon by the National Assembly.
The organisation (Afenifere) faulted the constitution review and described the exercise as another effort in futility and waste of time and public resources.
Speaking on behalf of the group (Afenifere), its Secretary-General, Chief Sola Ebiseni, while stating reasons the group failed to present a memorandum before the committee, said the present constitution does not emanate from Nigerians and failed to have the inputs of the people.
Ebiseni said the review will not cure the anomalies, adding that “Afenifere believes in and advocates fundamental restructuring of Nigeria for the reinvention of a federal constitution as the agreed principles of governing Nigeria and its diverse ethnic nationalities by our founding fathers, which will ultimately replace the imposed 1999 unitary constitution.
“Amending the constitution is an exercise in futility and a waste of time and public fund. We cannot claim to be a Federal Republic and be governed by a unitary constitution. “We cannot claim to be in a democracy and be governed by a constitution that does not emanate by the people. Amendment will not cure the anomalies. You cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stand.”
He regretted that “every session of the two arms of the National Assembly, since 2007, has embarked on the same jamboree of constitution amendment, spending public funds on public hearings, without any result.”
Public hearings on the amendment of the 1999 Constitution, however, continued across various centres in the federation on Thursday, with various stakeholders demanding for devolution of power and resources to the states, strengthening of federal character, creation of more states cum senatorial districts and inclusion of more women in elective offices.
From Port Harcourt to Asaba, Gombe, Owerri, Sokoto centres, the stakeholders were unanimous in demanding the existence of a constitution that aligns with the principles of fairness, equity, justice and truly meets the aspirations of all sections of the country, devoid of favouritism or sentiments.
At the Port Harcourt centre, the Rivers and Akwa Ibom state governments argued that too much power resided with the centre to the detriment of the states and the general development of the country.
The Attorneys General and Commissioners of Justice of the two states, Zacheaus Adango for Rivers and Uko Idong of Akwa Ibom, argued that there is a general consensus that the 1999 Constitution is fatally flawed and does not reflect the wishes and aspirations of the people band various federating units.
States creation topped list of demands by groups from Adamawa and Taraba at Thursday’s public hearing in Gombe State Especially, the groups re- quested creation of Amana and Gongola out of present Adamawa and Mambilla out of present Taraba. Both Mr Ahmad Sajoh, the leader of the movement for Amana state and Mr Salihu Wobkenso, leader for the movement, argued that the creation of the new state will ensure that governance is brought closer to the people.
In Owerri, the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Professor George Obiozor, identified restructuring as the only thing that will avert a full-blown political tragedy. Obiozor noted that the 1999 Constitution had caged many Nigerians and prevented them from developing their potentials. The Ohanaeze leader said the perennial problem of continuous dilemma in Nigeria politics revolved round the issues of justice, equity and fairness, adding that several times throughout history, those denied justice had had no interest in peace.
Chairman of the constitution review committee in the South-East, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, disclosed that the committee had received 48 submissions so far and urged the Ohanaeze to remain non -partisan in politics just as he also enjoined them to continue playing their fatherly roles. At the Sokoto centre, chairman of the Senate Committee on Defence and deputy chairman, Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption, Senator Aliyu Wamakko, disclosed that 103 oral and written memoranda were received at the centre.