The Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF) has faulted the Senate’s move to review and alter some provisions of the 1999 Constitution.
The Senate had recently invited the general public to submit a memorandum to assist the further alteration of some provisions of the 1999 Constitution.
The invitation said all Nigerians had only two weeks to submit their memoranda on all aspects requiring amendment of the current Constitution.
Reacting on Sunday in Abuja, the NEF’s Director of Publicity, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed said the parliament had spent several millions of naira since 1999 to fund the constitution review process without any meaningful impact on the lives of Nigerians.
The NEF queried the value of such efforts in the past and described the proposed review of the constitution as a predictable waste of time, resources and energy.
The forum advised the National Assembly to direct its energy and mandate towards convincing President Muhammadu Buhari to effectively tackle the country’s security challenges.
“Nothing fundamental or of any value has come out of these grand schemes to exploit our collective desire to address our political and economic fundamentals. This National Assembly is also following suit, and it should not be encouraged on this path.
“Nigeria’s future rests largely on its willingness to address major constraints to equity and justice, a functional structure, consistent good governance, security for all citizens, a credible electoral process, growing understanding between and among all groups and an economy that grows and narrows inequalities between classes and regions.”
Therefore, they said these national goals could not be achieved by a process that routinizes “wasteful expenditure around false hopes.”
“The Legislature and executive branches of government have large quantities of reviews, recommendations and reports from past attempts at amending the Constitution.
“These represent enough resources for a review, if the legislature is serious about this vital national priority.
“Even this is not likely to produce a genuine effort to address the basic requirements of securing a stable, secure and prosperous Nigeria because both arms of this administration are unlikely to accept to put through wide-ranging reviews of the Constitution.
“The Forum specifically reminds legislators and other leaders from the North that security of our communities, reduction of crushing poverty and widening distrust among communities should be their priorities.
“The Northern Elders Forum recommends the alternative of leaders of thought, elders, groups and professional organizations and representatives of government to freely discuss every element of our co-existence as a country under principles of voluntarism, genuine representation, mutual respect and integrity of the process.
“A Nigerian Peoples’ Conference on Review of the Constitution will benefit from past work in this direction in addition to contemporary challenges which the country needs to address in a context that allows free and productive engagements without pre-determined ends.
“The outcome of this conference should be submitted to the two arms of government which should provide for a referendum in the Constitution so that Nigerians can directly decide on how they want their nation to be structured and function.
“The North is willing to discuss other options that will do justice to the current Constitution and the future of our great country.”
KanyiDaily recalls that a renowned legal practitioner, Afe Babalola had said that the 1999 constitution is the main reason why Nigeria remains poor and undeveloped like most African countries.