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Ex-President Obasanjo: We need a new constitution in Nigeria

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Saturday, canvassed a new constitution for the country as against an amended one.

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Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Saturday, canvassed a new constitution for the country as against an amended one.

He also hailed the Southwest governors for what he called their courage in establishing the Western Nigeria Security Network (WNSN) Operation Amotekun to check insecurity in the region.

Obasanjo who spoke at the first Annual Frederick Fasehun Memorial Lecture in Lagos said “nothing has united the people of the Southwest like Amotekun since Nigeria’s Independence in 1960.”

He stressed that a new political order and arrangement would strengthen Nigeria’s unity and make room for healthy and useful competition among its component parts.

Obasanjo recalled how Nigerians’ disenchantment with the current political structure started with the quest for “true federalism” during his tenure which has since changed to “restructuring”.

He feared that the next phase could turn out to be call for self-determination by one or more geo-political zones, which will not be easy to suppress.

He said he was one of those who underestimated the Biafran rebellion, saying it would not last three to six months, only to stretch to 30 months.

“If after more 10 years of fighting Boko Haram, the terrorist group is still waxing strong, let nobody out of self-delusion think that a war of self-determination by one or more geopolitical zones of Nigeria with the present disenchantment would be easily suppressed by the rest of what may remain of the country,” he said.

He said most of the assumptions in the 1999 Constitution (as amended) “have been found to be unrealistic and unrealisable in practice by any administration that wishes to put them in the rubbish bin.”

He added: “This is the situation today. Let us put our experiences to work and fashion out a political order and arrangement that will strengthen our togetherness while making room for healthy and useful competition within the one entity, Nigeria.”

The former president who spoke under the theme, “Working the Talk Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow”, said Nigeria does not need to go the way of the former Yugoslavia, Sudan or Rwanda and Somalia.

His words: “None of these countries knew the avoidable and divisive end from the beginning.

“Let us learn from the experience of others and of our founding fathers who resolved their political differences through dialogue and debate without resorting to violence and separation but accommodation, telling themselves hard truth, tolerance and give-and-take spirit.

“That was the foundation of Nigeria at independence and let it continue to be. If all we are interested in is power and not holding the country together harmoniously and wholesomely, we may hold the mirage of power and lose the nation or the country bequeathed to us by our founding fathers.

“The Nigerian Constitution does not give the National Assembly the power to write a new Constitution but the power to amend the existing one. What is required is a new constitution to meet the agitation and aspiration of all Nigerians and to allay all fears.

“The executive and the legislature need to work together to establish a Constituent Assembly. The exercise must not be compromised like the present Constitution; it must have full legitimacy of ‘We the people’.”

He said he would continue to fight for ‘one Nigeria’. Nevertheless, he said he is not prepared to be a second class citizen for the sake of ‘one Nigeria’ and that he would wish the same for his children.

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