Former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Emeka Anyaoku, says to address the ongoing deterioration of the situation in the country, a new constitution is needed.
Anyaoku who spoke on Friday while delivering the 2023 convocation lecture at the Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, said Nigeria’s diversity was managed properly during the early years of the country’s independence.
While speaking on “Management of diversity: A major challenge to governance in pluralistic countries,” he added that the military coup of 1966 destroyed the unity of the country.
According to him, there were no inter-regional tensions before the 1966 military coup.
He added that there was security and economic development in the regions.
“But all this changed when the military intervened in the country’s governance in January 1966 and changed the existing constitution.
“Under the constitution of fewer and more viable federating new units that we had before the military intervention, there was security in the country and a faster pace of economic development in the region,” Anyaoku said.
He averred that the current situation of the country is “lamentable” because there is an “unprecedented level of divisiveness.”
“In contrast, today, if truth be told, the situation in our country is lamentable. There is an unprecedented level of divisiveness and a declining sense of national unity.
“The economy is in the doldrums, with 133 million of our population in multidimensional poverty.
“There is great insecurity throughout the land as we hear every day of killings and kidnappings by unknown gunmen and marauding bandits.
“All our infrastructure, including power supply, roads, and educational and health facilities, are in a poor state.
“Added to all this, there is a complete bastardisation of our society’s ethical values and an unfathomable level of corruption evident in the often reported massive looting and mismanagement of the country’s resources, including the continuing unbridled theft of our crude oil,” he said.
Anyaoku said Nigeria requires a new constitution that would be developed by Nigerians to achieve the needed transformation.
“The crux of my submission in this lecture is that considering the history of Nigeria over the last 63 years, to arrest the ongoing deterioration of the situation in the country and to achieve the desired transformation for the better.
“We need a system of government that not only addresses our diversity but is also based on a constitution that can correctly be described as a Nigerian peoples’ constitution.
“Accordingly, I call on the presidency, in consultation with the national assembly, instead of continuing to tinker with the 1999 constitution, to acknowledge the urgent necessity of a new constitution to be made by the people of Nigeria.”
He asked President Bola Tinubu to “convene a national constituent assembly” that will draft a new constitution.
Provisions of the 1963 and 1999 constitutions, as well as the recommendations of the 2014 national conference, he said, should be considered.