ABUJA, Nigeria – Leader of pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, Thursday asked President Muhammadu Buhari to change the 1999 Constitution.
He said the constitution is not working and it would not work because it is not the constitution agreed upon by the founding fathers of Nigeria.
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Speaking during the 18th Ogeneafrican holding in Abuja with the theme ‘Restructuring: Why? How?’, Adebanjo, who joined the event virtually, also tasked the president to either implement recommendations of the 2014 confab conducted by former President Goodluck Jonathan or conduct his own.
He asserted that Jonathan did his best when he was there “only he did it late.”
“If he had set up the commission at the right time, he could have implemented it,” Adebanjo said.
He also said those clamouring for 2023 elections do not love the country.
He said what is more important now is how to keep the country united which can only be achieved by changing the present constitution which he described as “fraudulent”.
He called for a truly federal constitution that gives each region of the country freedom and autonomy and propel their development.
He urged “progressive elements in the North” to prevail on President Buhari to change the constitution.
Adebanjo said: “If he doesn’t want to follow the 2014 confab, let him set up his own so that we can agree on the constitution and move on.
“And if he believes that is too much you can set up a committee to examine it, take away what you don’t want there, but what you want there and move on from unitary system.”
Explaining the concept of restructuring, he said, “Restructuring is not a political philosophy. People want to confuse it by saying what we meant by it.
Restructuring is to restructure the country back to federalism as we had it at independence because that is the constitution that the founding fathers of this country agreed to.
“Restructuring is to say we want the constitution that everybody agreed to, that gives peace and unity in the country. And when we talk of federalism there is a political philosophy behind it. It is not just a philosophy that you just receive from the air.
“It is a well-known principle that in a heterogeneous society like Nigeria, the unitary form of government that we are using now will not work and it cannot work.
“Restructuring is important now, we should go back to federalism.
“It is not the constitution our founding fathers gave us. It is not the constitution that Sardauna of Sokoto, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo agreed to at Independence.
“The constitution we have now was imposed on us by the military after the coup of 1966 and the question of going back to federalism is not a new one.
“Even before the 1999 constitution, we have been talking about this, we have been emphasising it and that was the basis of NADECO at that time.
“When the military said they were sending us back to civilian rule, the progressives then said no, if you are sending us back to civilian rule, send us back to the constitution you met with us, that was when we had peace, that was what we were running before the military came,” he said.