FEATURE ARTICLE

E O EkeMonday, December 11, 2017
eoeke@aol.com


THE NIGERIAN CONSTITUTION IS NOT A DEMOCRATIC DOCUMENT

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hen one reads any declaration, communique or constitution, the things that stand out are the convictions of the writers and the values that guided them on which they hoped to build the organisation or nation.

Reading the American constitution leaves one in no doubt about the conviction of the writers on democracy as the right system of government and the the high regard they have for the rule of law, justice as fairness, liberty, rule of law, fundamental human rights and individual liberty.

The same thing can be said of the French, Canadian, Australian etc., constitution which are based on Liberty, rule of law and equality.

Even the British, who have unwritten constitution, leaves no one in doubt that they stand for the rule of law, tolerance, freedom, equality, justice as fairness, human rights etc. These are the convictions and values that guide them.

On the other hand, when one reads the Nigerian constitution, what comes across is the conviction of the writers on control, domination, coercion, impunity, and Islam.

The Nigerian constitution is about ensuring that the north dominates, controls and exploits the whole country, which is why it contains a lots of discriminatory, undemocratic and intolerant clauses, which has made it impossible for democracy and accountants to flourish and civil society to emerge.

The writers of the Nigerian 1999 constitution gave unprecedented and unaccountable powers, including of patronage to the executive, demonstrating the very low esteem they hold institutions, accountability and the people.

They created a document that gave unaccountable powers to leaders, which they have abused to loot, steal and rob. The current antics of Rochas Okorocha and the way Buhari practices nepotism make persuasive cases, why the Nigerian constitution must be revisited and appropriate safeguards put in place to stop executives from exercising power the way they doing.

The constitution also allowed a role for a particular religion in the way no multiethnic and multi religious nation should, if it wants to build a peaceful and free society.

The constitution did not put enough safeguard to protect the people from abuse of power by the government, which is inevitable in any democracy.

The constitution seems to see the army and police as instruments in the hands of the president to enforce his will and control the people, instead of as organs of the state, whose duty is to defend the liberty, fundamental rights and security of the citizens.

Constitutions are written to protect men from government, but the 1999 Nigerian Nigerian constitution would seem to have been written to legitimise the violation of people's right by the government and protect government abuse of its powers.

Constitutions are written to ensure fairness and guarantee the rights of the citizens, but the 1999 Nigerian constitution was written to legitimise injustice deny the rights of people to their land and natural resources and discriminations against a part of the country.

Since the inception of the constitution, there has been constant attempt to amend it to put the leaders beyond the rule of law and perpetuate the domination of the north.

The 1999 constitution seems to easily allow the north to get whatever it wants, but makes it impossible for the rest of the country to address the injustices they are experiencing in the country.

This is another reason why it is a dangerous document, which must be repealed. It is divisive and a document of exploitation and discrimination.

It offers very little to the individuals in the area protection of his right to act according to his conscience, not to be discriminated against in the basis of ethnicity and religion and, absused by the government through the agents of the state.

It fails to capture the fact that government should exist to serve the people and protect them from criminals. Instead, it has enabled criminals and extremists to form the government and use it against the people.

The 1999 constitution has enabled the Buhari administration to use the military to illegally occupy Igbo land discrimination against East Nigeria in infrastructure development.

Under power given to the president, Buhari plans to enforced discriminatory toll on roads in east Nigeria, while spearing the north.

We cannot have in Nigeria a constitution which gives dictatorial and unaccountable power of patronage to the executive, which it used to discriminate against other ethnic and religious groups and claim to be a democracy.

The 1999 constitution must be repealed and replaced by a genuine democratic document, which lays solid foundation for the separation of power and ensures that those who exercise power on behalf of people are held accountable and not able to escape prosecution for their abuse of power and corruption they misuse their power to commit.

There has to be total commitment to the effort spearheaded by groups like the Lower Niger Congress LNC to do away with the 1999 constitution and replace with a new and fair constitution that would enable Nigeria to function as a true federation. This should be the most important political issue at the moment.

The Nigerian constitution contains nearly 70 provisions, which is used to rape the rights and Liberty of Nigerians. It confiscated the people's ancestral land and any natural resources in it and then, instead of holding them in trust for the people, shared it amongst themselves. An example is the way Oil wells are shared.

Nigerians should know about these unjust, exploitative and discriminatory clauses in the constitution.

These are the provisions that give the leaders access to unaccountable funds, right to natural resources and land. These are the provisions that give the legislators right to set their pay. These are the provisions that allow allow the president and governors disproportionate pension after 8 years of service during which they stole from the people.

All these provisions legitimise injustices, criminality and wrong and, make it difficult for democracy to flourish.

Of all constitutions in the world, the one that is similar to the Nigerian constitution is the apartheid constitution, of white supremacist nationalist government of South Africa, which had elaborate sections on how the white can remain in power and exploit the Africans and natural resources for their own benefit. Yes, it was a constitution, but it was a bad, unfair and undemocratic constitution, just like the constitution of Nigeria.

These and more are the reasons why the Nigerian constitution is not a democratic document, but an instrument of control, repression and injustice, which must be repealed.

Nigeria needs a new constitution based on justice and equality written by the people, and for the people and which protects the people from those who may wish to abuse their power.

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