Group Calls for Constitutional Reforms, Sectoral Collaboration

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By Sodeinde Temidayo David

The Africa Heritage Institution (AfriHeritage) has expressed determination to work for a national constitution that will foster transformative development and countrywide integration in Nigeria.

This was discussed at the Big Ideas Podium in collaboration with the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) themed Reworking the Nigerian Constitution for National Transformation and Integration.

The hybrid event, which had both in-person and virtual participants, was held to meet the institutions’ vision of a renascent Africa that is peaceful, democratic, prosperous and a major player in the global economy.

The collaboration meeting re-emphasised the supremacy of the Nigerian Constitution as a legal rule and recommended a decentralization of power for a more inclusive and democratic nation.

Advocating constitutional reforms and collaboration across sectors, the duo also recommended a Nigerian constitution that should be crafted to fully respect the rule of law, official accountability, public participation and debate, including a free and strong press.

According to the principal head of Justice Chamber, also the national president, Association for Good Governance, Mr Justice C. Uhuegbu, the 1999 Constitution failed tests of acceptability and needs amendments, first, through the process by which it was imposed, not negotiated and second, through specific provisions on several highly contentious issues.

“Transformation and Integration of Nigeria depend on a working constitution like in other nations around the world where the constitution is supreme.

“Therefore, it is vital that all stakeholders involved in the reworking process must understand and take into cognizance the supremacy of the constitution as this cannot be over-emphasized,” he said.

Mr Uhuegbu further expressed that the major challenge posed by the constitution is the non-implementation of useful provisions of the constitution.

In his example, there is a high level of favouritism by members of the government, especially in the executive arm, who are sworn to protect, maintain, and defend the constitution.

He added that the nation and its people were experiencing the aftermath of continuous and consistent abuse of constitutional tenets by people in authority.

He further expressed that the 1999 Nigeria Constitution needs constructive reworking that goes well beyond a mere amendment.

In order to achieve a more sustainable solution to such critical issues listed by the organisations, the Big Ideas Podium sought contributions from key stakeholders, including experts in public and constitutional laws, academics, and policymakers.

This was with the brief to reflect critically and identify useful ideas on how best to rework our national constitution into an instrument for social change and inclusion, sustainable peace, economic growth, and development.

The objective was to harvest practicable recommendations and feedbacks to inform the ongoing efforts aimed at constitutional reform.

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