Northern elders take stand on planned review of 1999 Constitution

The Northern Elders’ Forum, NEF, has declared that the recent publication by the Senate ad-hoc Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) is of no value.


It described it as a waste of time, resources and energy of the nation.

The NEF suggested that “the exercise should not be supported by any Nigerian genuinely concerned by waste in governance at this difficult time when the economy is facing unprecedented challenges.”

The NEF Director, Publicity and Advocacy, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, in a statement made available to DAILY POST on Sunday said, “Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF) has taken note of the published invitation by the Senate ad-Hoc Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to the public to submit Memorandum to assist the further alteration of the provisions of the Constitution(as amended).

“The announcement gives all Nigerians two weeks to submit their memoranda on all aspects of the current constitution.

“The Forum is convinced that this initiative of the Senate is of no value and a predictably waste of time, resources and energy of the nation, and should not be supported by any Nigerian genuinely concerned by waste in governance at this difficult time when the economy is facing unprecedented challenges.”

The statement noted that virtually every National Assembly since 1999 had spent huge amounts of Nigerian people’s money on jamborees that gave them false hope that the three arms of government respect genuine desire of Nigerians for a holistic and genuine review and amendment of the 1999 Constitution.

“Nothing fundamental or of any value has come out of these grand schemes to exploit our collective desire to address our political and economic fundamentals.This National Assembly is also following suit, and it should not be encouraged on this path,” the NEF regretted.

It explained that Nigeria’s future rests largely on its willingness to address major constraints to equity and justice, adding that a functional structure, consistent good governance, security for all citizens, growing understanding between and among all groups and an economy that grows and narrows inequalities between and classes and regions.

It said this cannot be achieved by a process that routinizes massive expenditures around false hopes.

The legislature and the executive branches of government, according to the statement, had large quantities of reviews, recommendations and reports from past attempts at amending the Constitutions.

“These represent enough resources for a review if the legislature is serious about this vital national priority. Even this is not likely to produce a genuine effort to address the basic requirements of securing a stable, secure and prosperous Nigeria, because both arms of this administration are unlikely to accept to put through a wide-ranging review of the Constitution,” it explained.

“The Northern Elders Forum recommends the alternative of leaders of thought, elders, groups and professional organizations and representatives of government to freely discuss every element of our co-existence as a country under principles of voluntarism, genuine representation and utmost mutual respect of the process.

“A Nigerian Peoples’ Conference on Review of the Constitution will benefit from past work in this direction and contemporary challenges the country needs to address in a context that allows free expression without pre-determined ends.

“The outcome of this Conference should be submitted to the two arms of government which may arrange and fund a referendum on the recommendations of the Conference for Nigerians to decide on how they want their nation to be structured and function,” the forum advised.

The forum advised the National Assembly to direct its energy towards convincing President Muhammadu Buhari to bring an end to the insurgency in the North East and killings in other parts of the country.

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