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Restructuring: Stop Beating around the bush, Prof. Yadudu Tells Adebanjo, Nwodo, ors

  • Says ‘I did not write the 1999 Constitution’

  • Blames Jonathan for non-Implementation of 2014 Conference

  • No need for Continuous amendment of Constitution —Amadi

Professor Auwal Hamisu Yadudu, the former legal adviser to the late head of state, General Sani Abacha, has told off the President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief John Nwodo and Afenifere leader, Pa Ayo Adebanjo on the issue of restructuring.

Prof. Yadudu made the remarks while speaking at the teleconference organized by Governance Index Platform on the topic , “The Coronavirus Pandemic: Good Governance, Restructuring and the 1999 Constitution” on Friday.

Adebanjo and Nwodo had last last week carpeted the 1999 Constitution saying it was forced on Nigeria by Northern Muslim Military.

Speaking, Yadudu told Chief Nwodo and Pa Ayo Adebanjo to stop beating around the bush about the issue but to follow the existing legal order in the 1999 Constitution.

He said that it is fallacy to keep saying the 1999 Constitution was imposed and that Nigeria will go no further if the Constitution is not changed.

He said that it is silly statement to say he authored 1999 Constitution and explained that the Constitution was authored by a committee chaired by Late Justice Niki Tobi.

He, however, admitted that he was retained by General Abubakar Abdulsalam as legal adviser .

Narrating how the 1999 Constitution was adopted, the Prof. of law said that the Committee chaired by late Justice Niki Tobi moved around the country and captured the thoughts of Nigerians far and wide.

He noted that Nigerians overwhelmingly demanded for 1979 Constitution which is Presidential system, adding that there is little difference between 1999 Constitution and 1979 Constitution.

He said: ” The Mistake has been continuously made that this Constitution is a Military’s position, and we should have nothing to do with it and we are doomed to fail if we do not throw it into ditch.

“My take on the 1999 Constitution is that it was adopted along 1979 Constitution.

“You may say 1979 Constitution is an imposition of military, but I think that basic structure of 1954, 1960 and 1963 Constitutions which is that you have a chapter on Judiciary which essentially has remained what it is .

“You have a chapter on fundamental rights which, as far as I can tell, also only being improved upon.

“You have a chapter that defined the power of states and Executive, Judiciary, Legislature, only that it is an executive system not parliamentary system.

“And also, if you look , you have Constitution that is distributed between legislative list, Exclusive and concurrent.

“What is in this feature that is uniquely an imposition of either 1979 or 1999? It is a continuation of one gone through; it is not a perfect document, it can be inversely improved.

“There is much in it that can be even overthrown.

“It is a fallacy to keep saying is an imposition and that we will go no further if we do not jettison it.

“If you want to discuss restructuring in relation to Constitution, stop beating around the bush.

“The existing legal order is the 1999 Constitution, it has ways and means of changing it, including even entirely or terminate it.

“To me I don’t see problem about restructuring whether you want to combine the whole South West to become a region again or six zones to become a political entity and make it federation, or if you want confederation system, whichever way we want to do it.

“I think we can work within the existing legal order and you have no other basis for changing things expect in accordance with existing legal order.

“I know that the answer to that is that it is difficult to achieve, but wherever you go, where Constitution has changed , they made use of what they have.

“And of course you can change by revolution, if you can afford it; obviously you throw it out , you can enthrone whatever beautiful ideas that you want to enthrone not necessarily by reference to Constitution provision.

” I was a member of 49 members Committee that went round and sort the view of Nigerians and at the end of the day it was reported that that Nigerians overwhelmingly supported return of 1979 Constitution with necessary amendment.

“So rarely PRC had no role in writing anything; I was only part of the Committee chaired by late Justice Niki Tobi which adopted its recommendation that we should go back to 1979 Constitution.

“The structure I laid to you is the structure of 1979 Constitution with necessary amendment in 1979, we have 19/states , and we have 36 states in 1999.

” It will silly for anyone to say I wrote 1999 Constitution. ”

On the amendment of Constitution, Yadudu kicked against a provision in the Constitution where Mr. President is given a role to ascent to the Constitution.

He said , “To me if you go through the process of amending the Constitution, the National Assembly does it, States Assembly does it, public hearing takes place , the amendment goes to state Assembly, which adopted two-third to support it.

“It come and goes to Mr. President and with stroke of pen the President strikes it down. I think it is wrong , it is not in the spirit of Presidential system even in the US, amending the Constitution should not give arbitrary power to President.”

On 2014 National Conference, Yadudu blamed the former President Goodluck Jonathan for non-implementation of 2014 National Conference report because the Committee submitted its report within a stipulated date.

He said: “The timing he choose was dictated when the report went to him; we finished in August 14, submitted the report on first week of September:

“He had the whole year to do what he wishes with the report, but he did nothing about it, you cannot accuse me of that, it was President himself who choose a wrong time.

“And even when it was handed over to him , he did nothing, not even a single recommendation in it, he just push the can to some other people.

“If anybody should take a blame it should start from his administration; he set it up, we did our report on time , he did nothing about it and the Conference was not Sovereign. ”

Speaking during Conference, Dr. Sam Amadi kicked against continuous amendment of the Constitution because when the Constitution is amended continuously, it creates a subject of contestation .

He said: “I’m not a supporter of continuous amendment of the Constitution.

“The theory from political scientists is that the most stable Constitutions are those constitutions that has not been altered because when you amend a Constitution too frequently, they create a subject of political contestation .”

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