July 18, 2024

Democracy Day: Review of Nigeria’s constitution long overdue – Rights group


A human rights organisation, Centre for Human Rights and Accountability Network (CHRAN), said the review or overhaul of the 1999 constitution to accommodate the current realities in Nigeria is long overdue.

The Director of CHRAN, Otuekong Franklyn Isong, speaking in Uyo on Wednesday during a symposium to mark the 2024 Democracy Day in Nigeria with the theme “Civil Society as the Pivot of Good Governance in a Democratic Setting,” stated that the current Nigerian democracy “is founded on a constitution that the General Abdulsalami Abubakar-led military junta hurriedly packaged and imposed on Nigerians using Decree No. 24 of 1999.”

He observed that the constitution, which is now twenty-five years in existence, has not effectively addressed Nigeria’s multifarious problems and challenges, saying, “There is no doubt that the extant constitution requires a fundamental review, if not a complete overhaul.”

Enumerating the lapses of the 1999 constitution, the director noted, “Section 2(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), states that Nigeria shall be a federation consisting of states and a Federal Capital Territory. It excludes the local government areas as part of the federation, thus impeding grassroots development in Nigeria.

“In Section 7(1) of the Nigerian Constitution, the system of local government by democratically elected local government councils is guaranteed. But the funding of the local government areas is tied to the apron strings and control of the state governments in Section 162(6) of the Constitution, which states that each state shall maintain a special account to be called ‘State Joint Local Government Account’ into which shall be paid all allocations to the local government councils of the state from the Federation Account and from the government of the state.

“Again, the State Independent Electoral Commissions (SIECs) are provided for in Section 197(1)(b) of the Constitution while their funding is in the hands of state governments, making the SIECs an appendage of the state governors.”

He, however, commended Governor Umo Eno for allowing the funds of the local government councils to get to them, saying, “This information was verified during the just concluded tour of the 31 local government councils by the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly Committee on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, with the CHRAN as a part of the team.”

Isong also noted that for the 25 years of uninterrupted democracy in Nigeria, the country is still searching for capable leaders and true democrats at the helm of affairs, stressing, “leaders who would enact the aspirations of the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 Presidential Election, Chief Moshood Abiola.”

While wishing President Bola Tinubu success in his administration, the director urged him, as one of the frontline June 12 activists, to implement the ethos of democracy and make his government people-centric.

He urged him to revisit the policy on the fuel subsidy and reverse it in line with the popular opinion of Nigerians, as the policy has failed to achieve its desired intention.

“I believe that Mr. President has good intentions for this country. He has demonstrated the capacity to provide good governance to Nigerians. I wish he listened to the plea of Nigerians by reversing the fuel subsidy removal. The strength of character of a good leader is when the leader listens to his followers and makes amends. Surely, Nigeria shall be great again!” he stated.



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