Let’s revisit reports of 2014 Confab to address nation’s problems ― Olabode George
•Says mere review of 1999 Constitution not the answer
Former Deputy National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olabode George, said on Monday, that mere review of the 1999 Constitution will not be sufficient to correct all the glaring wrongs afflicting the Nigerian state, declaring that the way out would be to revisit the report of the 2014 Constitutional Conference which had been generally applauded by Nigerians to address the country’s problems.
George gave this stand in an Open letter to the Senate President, Senator Ahmed Lawan, saying that the current review exercise being embarked upon by the Upper Chamber across the country was not acceptable.
According to him, the structures of the present constitution is so biased flawed and so mangled with inequities, saying a mere review would not be enough to correct all the glaring wrongs afflicting the country.
“This is not acceptable to the Nigerian people. The structures of the present constitution is so biased, so flawed and so mangled with inequities that a mere review will not be sufficient to correct all the glaring wrongs afflicting the Nigerian state.
“The unanimous position of the Nigerian people is the total overhaul of the present constitution. Nothing else will do. A genuine juncture of remedy will be to revisit the report of the 2014 Constitutional Conference which has been generally applauded for the sweeping breadth of its equity and democratic balance in rectifying the prejudicial and unworkable structures that are on the ground now,” the PDP chieftain said.
This was just as George, who is also the Atona Oodua of Yorubaland, berated the Senate Constitutional Review Committee sent to Lagos and headed by Senator Oluremi Tinubu, saying the committee was “without any inkling of democratic seriousness, totally devoid of any sense of fairness, indifferent to the equitable pursuit of justice.
The party chieftain said the Lagos public hearing of the review committee was wrong-footed ab initio, declaring that there was nothing genuine or sincere about the mode of presentation, adding: “There was no attempt to widen the pool of contributions or give the public hearing any semblance of popular input.
The elder statesman, while noting one of the wise sayings of the former prime minister of the country, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa, who he said once observed that “Nigerian democracy should be an ethnic commonwealth which should give each constituent a fair place under its umbrella even if they have lost at the polls,” argued that the chairperson of the Lagos hearing, Senator Tinubu, typified the narrow, restrictive nature of the committee, accusing her of being overbearing, among others in her engagement with contributors.
“Many people were deliberately denied the openness of democratic contributions. The hearing was stage-managed, anchored in prejudice, framed in puppeteering identification. Alternative views were cast aside, flung into the pits. This is not right. This is not just.
“It is obvious that the Committee is not interested in the true and thorough representation of the will of the Nigerian people. It appears to be working with a script towards a predetermined end. The contributions were narrow, overtly partisan, one-sided, lacking in plural contributory logic,” George said.
Speaking further on the need to jettison the ongoing constitution review exercise and revisit the reports of the 2014 Constitutional Conference, said his belief was that Nigeria can emerge stronger and better only when all the component units that make up the country have a sense of belongingness and general accommodation regardless of tribe or sectarian belief, among others.
According to him, this can only be achieved with a people’s constitution, adding that this is what the citizens “should work for rather than the charade and the present jamboree that is chaired by Senator Ovie Omo – Agege.”
“Enough of this false and misleading engagement. Let’s renew our nation through the pursuit of the truth and the resolve on the fairness doctrine. Their-in resides the national salvation.
“It is only fit and proper that I should conclude this intervention with another nugget of wisdom from our first Prime Minister, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa when he observed: ‘If crooks are allowed to determine the destiny of the people, the people will suffer indefinitely.”