Nigeria’s Constitution Is Military, Illegitimate – Professor Oyebode
A Professor of International Law and Jurisprudence, Akin Oyebode, has described the Nigerian constitution as military in nature and illegitimate.
Oyebode made the comment Tuesday on Sunrise Daily during a discussion of the Nigerian Senate’s recent decision to review the constitution.
He noted that the current constitution does not reflect the will of the Nigerian majority since it was cobbled together by a few people and imposed on the country.
The renowned academic also pointed out that it was not in the Senate’s place to give Nigerians a new constitution. “We got it wrong,” he said.
Oyebode went on to call for the composition of a constituent assembly that represents the totality of Nigerians.
The new constitution, Oyebode noted, should elaborate on true federalism.
What Oyebode actually said?
“It is not for the National Assembly to give Nigerians a constitution. It is the constitution that will give birth to the National Assembly. The job of the National Assembly is to make workaday laws for the peace, order and good government of Nigeria. So it is the constituent assembly that will deliberate and fashion out a fundamental law for Nigeria.
“If we agree that the military decree that is masquerading as a constitution is worse than useless; then of course we have to go about replacing it with a basic law of Nigeria.
“We have to elaborate on true federalism. We need devolution of powers. We should not be running to Abuja for every little thing.
“What we have been operating under the military constitution is a quasi-federal arrangement. So the constituent units don’t have the freedom to legislate on matters that affect their constituents.
“It is not the national assembly that should give us a new constitution. We the people or our representatives formed into a constituent assembly should discuss the modalities of living together.
“What we’ve been having, talking of the Decree 24 of 1979, is an illegitimate instrument. Where did we people gather to discuss and agree to live together? We never had that. It was a product of a military dictate. What you had was the Abdusalam constitution – I believe 29 Nigerians were constituted to draft the 1999 constitution.
“Nigerians now have the right to enact to themselves the fundamental law that will regulate how they are living together.
“If the infelicities of that constitution are well known, we would be wasting time recounting how unworkable a quasi-federal set up is for a country that has over 400 ethnic groups. And that’s why we’ve been in the jam that we find ourselves.
“I think we have to get it right finally by setting up a constituent assembly that will produce a draft constitution which will be voted on by the generality of Nigerians.”