Elder Statesmen and leaders of thought under The Patriots, on Thursday in Lagos said President Bola Tinubu has the historic opportunity and responsibility in fixing Nigeria now by hearkening to stakeholders’ demand to restructure it to true federal-ism.
The leaders, who met at the llupeju, Lagos Chamber of the founding chairman of the body, the late legal luminary, Chief FRA Williams, included a former Secretary General of the Commonwealth of Nations and current chairman, Chief Emeka Anyaoku; foremost nationalist, Chief Ayo Adebanjo (secretary), former Minister of Finance, Dr Kalu Idika Kalu; Chief Tokunbo Wil-liams, who represented the Williams family and Madam Nene Nwabueze for the late Professor Ben Nwabueze family.
They called for the convening of a constituent assembly to draft a new constitution that captures the wishes and aspirations of the people, describing the current constitution as fraudulent document.
The leaders warned the president against making the mistakes of past administration which according to them avoided effecting the fundamental change that would produce a peoples constitu-tion, noting that a repeat of such scenario could further aggregate the “current dangerous decline.”
Speaking further on the state of the nation, Chairman of the Patriots, Chief Anya-oku said: “We want President Bola Tinubu to take the initiative to convene constituent assembly on a non-partisan basis.
“The Constituent Assembly should draft the new constitu tion and once the majority of our citizens approve of it and the president should sign it.
“The 1999 Constitution, it must be admitted, is not a people’s constitution. It was imposed on Nigerians by the military.
It is not of Federal nature but a unitary concept of constitution. The federal has power and the state runs to Abuja for allocation. We believe a constitution that is truly Federal will devolve power.
“We are not asking for a review of the 1999 constitution because it is fraudulent and not a people’s constitution.
We are advocating the making of a truly Nigerian peoples constitution.
“Also, we accept the reality of President Ahmed Bola Tinubu’s administration whose legitimacy derives from the judgment of the highest judiciary court in our land on the country’s 2023 national elections.
“We are very concerned at the current lamentable state of affairs in our country including the declining sense of national unity, the insecurity of life and property, the increasing poverty and unemployment afflicting our citizens, especially the youth.
“Experience over the last 30 years has shown that despite the declared best intentions of our governments, Nigeria’s unity, internal security and economy have continued to deteriorate. In our view, the reason is that our governments
have continued to scratch the surface instead of addressing the fundamental issue of the governance system which flows from the constitution of the country.
“We believe that President Tinubu’s government has a historic opportunity and responsibility for fixing this fundamental challenge. If he, like the previous governments makes the mistake of avoiding to effect the necessary fundamental change by bringing in a new people’s constitution, Nigeria will inevitably continue its present dangerous decline. Only a truly Federal Constitution as was agreed by Nigeria’s founding fathers will give the country a chance of tackling its current challenges effectively.”
Also speaking, Pa Adebanjo lent his once to the call for a new constitution, just as he recalled that the nation’s founding fathers drafted the 1960 Independence Constitution.
“Our leader, the founding father of the Patriots, had said the 1999 Constitution is a fraudulent constitution. It says we the people but the people didn’t make the constitution. He explained it to us at the time. The constitution said, we the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria but, are we Federal when all powers are concentrated at the centre? I just want to sasy that we are only repeating what has been said repeatedly over the years by the people who know and used to know. Chief Rotimi Williams, our founding father, drafted the 1960 Constitution,” he concluded.