Chief Afe Babalola, SAN, who promised to contribute 50 million naira to the hosting of a National Conference has described the planned review of the 1999 Constitution by the National Assembly as a waste of time.
He made this comment in Ado Ekiti, on Wednesday, a day after the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, told members of the Senate Committee of the Review of the Constitution that a national dialogue was the only way forward.
According him, the National Assembly should instead convene a national conference where issues bedeviling the nation could be identified, discussed and resolved through a roundtable talk.
The National Assembly had started its zonal public hearings where listen to their various constituencies for ideas, so as to form the basis for legislative action on the constitution.
Babalola said: “Against the background of the massive demand by Nigerians, home and abroad, for a true federal constitution made by the people and for the people, the National Assembly is calling for Public Hearing in the country’s six Geo-political Zones for people’s inputs on any issue of interest to enable the National Assembly to amend the 1999 constitution.”
“It is common knowledge that the 1999 Constitution was made by the Military which in its wisdom claimed that it was made by the people.
“Secondly, it is impossible, by way of amendment, to take away the military system of government under the 1999 Constitution or the power and control of public funds by the President.
“Or can we, by way of amendment, change the Judicial powers of the President under the 1999 Constitution?
“The root cause of our problems, which has brought Nigeria to the brink of extinction, is the 1999 Constitution foisted on it by the Military when it was exiting the reign of governance in 1999.
“The fact remains that you cannot amend a Coconut tree which has no branches to become and Iroko tree which has branches. It is a well-known fact that everything about the 1999 constitution is wound round the Presidential system of government.
“Why then is the National Assembly afraid of calling a National Constitutional Conference to fashion out a new true federal constitution and come up with a Parliamentary system of government like we had in 1963.
“Alternatively, since amendment in law includes substitution for an existing document, why is it that the National Assembly cannot call for a Public Hearing on the substitution of the 1999 Constitution for the 1963 Constitution which was made with the consent of the people?
“The proposed amendment to the 1999 Constitution, whichever way you look at it, is a futile exercise. We all know that previous sessions of National Assembly had made laws to convene National Conference.
“I, therefore, advise that the current National Assembly should call for a National Conference to discuss and make a new true federal constitution which will provide for a Parliamentary system of government.