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Anyaoku calls for constituent assembly, says 1999 constitution lacks legitimacy

Former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, has said the current 1999 constitution lacks legitimacy expected in a pluralistic country like Nigeria.

He said the constitution is not suitable to address the myriads of challenges confronting Nigeria and called for the adoption of the recommendations of the 2014 national conference or conduct an “inexpensive” constituent assembly that would be nonpartisan in order to have a truly federal constitution.

Anyaoku spoke at the National Dialogue on the constitutional future of Nigeria in Honour of renowned constitutional lawyer, Prof. Ben Nwabueze, organised by the Patriots (A Pan Nigerian Group of Eminent National Leaders of Thought) with the theme, “Lawful Procedures for Actualising a People’s Constitution for Nigeria.

Anyaoku who is the Chairman of the Patriots said Nigeria is a pluralistic country but has failed to develop like other pluralistic countries in the world which have succeeded by devolving powers to the federating units.

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He said, “First Nigeria is a pluralistic country that is still struggling to become a nation with assured political stability and progressive socioeconomic development.

“The fact from across the world is that some pluralistic countries have succeeded in becoming nations while other pluralistic countries have failed and disintegrated. The lesson from this is that pluralistic countries which have succeeded in becoming nations have generally practiced true federalism with considerable power devolved to the federating units.

“This fact was acknowledged by our founding fathers who negotiated painstakingly and agreed the Independence Constitution of 1960-1963.

“Our present 1999 constitution as amended not only lacks the legitimacy that flows from a democratically made constitution but also has proved to be unsuitable for tackling many of the serious challenges confronting our country.

“It is a widely recognized fact that the crucial areas of the country have significantly deteriorated and continue to deteriorate.”

He said Nigeria has suffered deterioration in many fronts in the area of Security of the citizens lives and properties, economic well-being of the citizens, infrastructure including roads and education and health facilities, social cohesion and social values and the sense of national unity.

“These are areas where significant deterioration has occurred over the years,” he said.

The elder statesman said Nigeria has two options in getting a truly federal constitution by either adopting the recommendations of the 2014 National Confab or “we go for a relatively inexpensive directly elected constituent assembly on non-party basis for producing such widely desired constitution.”

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