By Revd Bunmi Thomas
A nation cannot get it right without a workable and acceptable constitution, this is because the wealth and distribution of wealth, the strength and security of its people, justice and administration of justice are all propagated by the provisions enshrined in the constitution. As so except the constitution encapsulate for the good of the people all that is required, there will be unrest, agitation and terrorism which will be proceeds from the extant misrule and corruptionists legitimization of gross illegality made possible by the constitution.
Then you may wonder something must be effectively considered concerning a constitution for it to be workable and acceptable.
The acceptability and workability of a constitution hinges upon some factors within the process of constitutional making, and that is the process of its formation, principles of its formation and the culture of its application.
When these three cogent factors are grossly undermined with impunity, the constitution is birthed to be unworkable and unacceptable. And once it becomes unacceptable, with all its strength of legitimization and its legality, it losses credence and birth misrule and a society with such experience will raise poverty and herd corruption and this is the present sorry state of Nigeria and the extant disaffection within the masses as this sorry state has led us face to face with agitation and terrorism which have been an extreme to the right and another to the left in sharp reaction to the aftermath of culture of application of a weird constitution that.
How then do we see the bane of our country rooted in the 1999 constitution, you may ask.
Let’s review some fundamental aspects of our constitution and you will agree with me, this isn’t just academical but factual and something urgent must be done to halt the dangerous slide into a failed state.
THE PROCESS OF FORMATION
Ordinarily a genuine constitution is birthed through a process that is inclusive and people centered.
But the 1999 constitution was birthed without mass participation of representatives of the people and the process was riddled with dictatorship gabbed in democracy.
THE PRINCIPLES OF FORMATION
Principles here are to be seen as enacted norms that depicts the mindsets of the people who put the documents together.
The 1999 constitution no doubt was a child of the military govt hastily put together for a naive and then nascent democratic experiment, in the Federal Exclusive Legislative List which had 68 items it reveals the Federal Government with a systemic usurpation and arrogation of supreme powers against the principles of federalism.
The systemic usurpation sees the Federal Government taking over the Key Economic Assets as well as the most important governmental powers and authority of the federating units.
The weird constitution made it the sole rights of the Federal govt to own legislate control over the oil and gas, maritime, coastal territories; solid mineral such as Iron Ore, Aluminum, Coal, Limestone and wide range of precious metals and stones.
Such a provision empowers the federal govt illegitimately despite legally.
The 1999 constitution criminally confiscate powers to generate and transmit Electricity; powers to run a Police and allied firearms agencies, powers to build, own or operate Boarder, Seaports, Airports, Highways and Railways to the federal govt from its federating units, this is criminal and an unjust imposition.
The list is long when you look at the powers bequeathed to the federal govt against the federating unit in areas of internally generated revenue accrual from the Banking, Insurance, Copyright, Patents, Trade Marks, Pensions, Prisons, Posts, Company Incorporation and Marriages.
One wonders ahead with all this powers stolen by this weird constitution yet the issues of Elections into Federal and State Public Offices is also arrogated to it under the federal exclusive legislative list.
THE CULTURE OF APPLICATION One cannot but work within the ambits of the law to be legal, but would all legality be legitimate?
There have been severe consequential aftermath upon the people as the people have always been at the receiving end of misrule.
When you flash back at our Educational sector, look at the Universities developed by the then Regions, you can now see what the Federal Government has done since it took over our schools, when it was pre-1999 era, our university were better off than now.
Similarly, the manufacturing subsectors were also better off when it was under the federating units Oodua investment had it well with Cocoa and factories allover.
The effect of this Federal Exclusive Legislative List is that only the Federal Government shall have power and control over all items listed while the Federating Units such as the states are been forbidden from undertaking anything under that List.
In a crazy comprehension the few undertakings permitted are criminally stifled.
The Concurrent List having a 30 Items are still suppressed with a criminal overriding powers of the Federal Government such that any conflicts between the Federal Government and any state Government in respect of any matter on the Concurrent List, the interests of the Federal Government prevails.
With all these and several more I shall in subsequent submissions make available, it is evident that excessive powers have been arrogated to the federal govt by this weird 1999 constitution and to say the best is to ask that it be set aside for a referendum to renegotiate and restructure our present collapsed system.
Any continued operation of the present weird 1999 constitution will be to the detriment of the sovereignty and posterity of our collective essence for the present heart beat of the temperament of our polity dictates a pending doom and indeed it is wiser to listen to alternative voices when it gets more louder.
Aare (Revd) ‘Bunmi Thomas is founder and President of IPARAPO OMO OODUA, he sent
this piece from Ibadan