Some legal experts have made a case for a constitution that will reflect the aspirations and realities of Nigerians.
At a lecture series held in honour of constitutional lawyer, Professor Ben Nwabueze in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, the experts insisted that the 1999 constitution suffers a legitimacy deficit with the history of being handed down by the military.
They noted that the proposed National Conference is an opportunity to ensure that the constitution has the input of Nigerians and that it is tailored to suit the Nigerian situation.
The guest lecturer, Director of Research, Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS) Professor Dakas Dakas advocated for a constitution that will reflect the aspiration of Nigerians rather than the one handed down from the military, claiming that Nigerians sincerely need to be carried along in the designing of a constitution that suits their realities.
Speaking to Channels Television, he further said “we need to make sure that we focus more on constitutionalism because that is the ethos that underpins and drives the constitution, and for us to do so we need to make sure that the Nigerian people are keyed into the process, otherwise they will begin to see the constitution as something alien they cannot relate with.”
The Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies NIALS, Professor Epiphany Azinge, however advised that the elite need to desist from the selective observation of the rule of law which has become the case over time, making the constitution a dog that cannot bite.
The maiden edition of the Professor Ben Nwabuze Lecture Series brought together legal minds, and academics as well as the renowned constitutional lawyer himself, Professor Ben Nwabueze.
Following recommendations obtained in its public sessions, the ad-hoc committee of the House of Representatives has presented its report on the review of the 1999 Constitution.
Making the presentation on Thursday, the chairman of the ad-hoc committee, Emeka Ihedioha, said the committee has removed immunity from prosecution previously enjoyed by the President and state governors.
The report also shows that the committee threw out over 35 requests for new states, even as it grants local governments autonomy, to manage their own accounts.
The House also took what many may consider a popular decision on autonomy for local governments and approved independent candidacy in future elections.
The committee also recommended that a person who has lived in a community for a specific period of time should have the same rights as its citizens.
The House is now expected to harmonize the recommendation with the Senate ahead of the final amendment of the constitution.
The on-going review of the 1999 constitution has been described as a charade, deceit and an attempt by the national assembly to maintain the status-quo and a deliberate attempt to mortgage the future of the country.
This was the view of a retired High Court Judge in Ogun State, Justice Ademola Bakare, who advocated for sovereign national conference as what the country needed to address the critical and grey areas in the polity.
Justice Bakare, made this known at the people’s public session on the review of the 1999 Constitution, where he was the chairman of the event for Abeokuta federal constituency of Ogun state , south west Nigeria.
He warned that the on-going process was bound to fail.
The occasion however witnessed the consideration of all the 38 clauses thought to be fundamental for review by the national assembly
The exercise was attended by the secretary to the state government Mr Taiwo Adeoluwa, members of the civil society, labour union, market men and women and religious leaders.
The Nigerian Union of Journalist (NUJ) has asked the national assembly to consider the review of the structure of ownership and control of public media houses in the on-going constitution amendment to give the organisations more editorial independence and make them more accountable to Nigerians.
Speaking at a dialogue of editors on the review of the 1999 Constitution, the president of the NUJ, Mr Muhammed Garba, stated that the review of the acts establishing these media houses have become imperative as there is a need to give them more editorial independence as well as make them more accountable to the Nigerian public and not the government.
The affected media organisations that will be affected with the review will be the Nigeria Television Authority, (NTA), Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) and the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
Others are the Voice of Nigeria (VON) and the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) ACT
According to Mr Garba, parts of the Act that need change is the powers that allow the President to hire and fire in the various public media houses ,this he says will give the organisations more neutrality in the job of discriminating information.
He also demanded a review of the laws on the establishment of media organisation in Nigeria, as he also sought for laws that will make provision for a better welfare for media practitioners.