Eminent Nigerians have faulted the 1999 constitution, describing it as faulty and not a true reflection of the genuine wishes of Nigerians.
They spoke as panellists at the #FixPolitics virtual constitutional review dialogue.
The panellists included Usman Bugaje, Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), Ayo Atsenuwa, Ann-Kio Briggs, Mike Utsaha, and Folarin Falana Falz, Joyce Daniel, and Amyna Usma.
They also unanimously agreed that the present constitution could not solve the nation’s numerous problems because it was flawed and needs to be reformed. They, however, failed to agree if the country needed a new constitution or the present could be amended.
However, there was unanimous agreement among the participants that the country needed a new constitution rather than amending the existing 1999 constitution.
Folarin Falana was of the view that the country leaders must deal with the impunity which had become a normal thing and grown to an alarming proportion, saying that it was the first step along with a new constitution to dealing with the nation’s problems.
In his contribution, Bugaje argued that the responsibility to reform or replace the constitution rested on the shoulders of the lawmakers.
“For the moment, I think we have to continue to engage, push for change if we can get change, push for that critical amendment that will give us that incremental inch that will take us to where we want to be,” Bugaje said.
Olisa Agbakoba, Senior Advocate of Nigeria was of the view that changing the 1999 constitution may not guarantee a perfect country, saying that the current constitution, in spite of its impact, is not being complied with by political leaders.
“To force a change of constitution outside the legal framework will be considered a revolution. Let’s not assume that a perfect constitution that we all strive for means that by a flick of the switch everything is good”, he said.
Also, Briggs canvassed for a new constitution, stressing that the 1999 constitution was imposed on Nigerians by the military, while Atsenuwa sought more citizen’s engagement to change the system.
Obiageli Ezekwesili and Remi Sonaiya, the chairperson and co-chair of #FixPolitics, respectively, said the group had already engaged the existing system through a submission to the National Assembly asking that the 1999 constitution be discarded and replaced with a new one.