Prominent lawyer, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), is advocating what he calls a people’s constitution as Nigeria marks 57 years of independence.
This, he said in a write up to mark the day, can be achieved through “a Sovereign National Conference and a referendum and the restoration of the 1963 Constitution.”
Citing the current agitations for secession in parts of the country, Chief Babalola said the grievances are not dissimilar to those that sparked the civil war.
“If these grievances are not resolved and are swept under the carpet, those who are yet unborn now will in 40 years time raise the same issue,” he warned.
“We must pray and ensure, by our words and deeds, that things do not degenerate to that level in our country. We must deliberately elect to jaw-jaw instead of war-war.
“It is my considered view that before we attain 60 years as a country, the government should invite papers from stakeholders and constitute a Sovereign National Conference the decision of which shall not be subject to amendment by anybody or group of people who would not allow a people constitution to become a reality as it would affect their pecuniary interest.
“As we celebrate our independence from the colonial masters 57 years ago, we should pray that those in power would seriously consider the problems afflicting the country since 1966 when the military abrogated the 1963 constitution, and embark on restructuring exercise.”
He expressed opposition to the call for the breakup of the country, saying: “we have a lot to gain by becoming a strong nation.”
But he emphasized that “we urgently need a constitution that would allow each region to develop at its own pace, leaving such matters as defence, currency and foreign affairs to the centre. Certainly agriculture and education are matters for the regions.”