Obasanjo Almost Punched Me When I Pushed For Constitution Amendment – Olanipekun

Wole Olanipekun,

Wole Olanipekun, a former President of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), on Wednesday, disclosed an encounter he had with former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) alleged that Obasanjo nearly assaulted him when he suggested amending Nigeria’s constitution during his presidency.

He revealed this while speaking at the 32nd and 33rd convocation lecture of Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State.

Delivering the lecture titled “Mass Exodus of Human Capital in Nigeria: An Anatomical Analysis of the Causes and Effects,” Olanipekun strongly criticized the 1999 constitution, labeling it as “fake” and inadequate for addressing the nation’s challenges.

Olanipekun however advocated for a complete overhaul of the constitution to better meet the country’s needs.

He recalled that in 2002, while leading a delegation of the NBA to meet with President Obasanjo, he advised for the commencement of a process to amend the constitution.

His suggestion, according to him, was not only rejected by Obasanjo but also nearly led to physical confrontation, as the former President almost “boxed” him in response to the proposal.

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He further attributed the mass exodus of young Nigerians abroad to several factors, including insecurity, a faulty constitution, a struggling economy, and flawed federalism.

“We need a constitution with a humane face. I’m a lawyer, but we are deceiving ourselves, our constitution is fake and I have said this over and over, but then you will ask we lawyers that, ‘if we say the constitution is fake, why are we practicing it’? Lawyers and judges apply the law as it is, not the law as it ought to be, so we apply the law as we have it now and we have been pleading that we should amend the constitution, let us overhaul it.

“I, as president of the NBA, I led a delegation of the association to president Obasanjo in 2002, he almost boxed me, I’m here in Ogun State and I’m saying this, he is still alive, he said ‘no you can’t change it’, I said Mr. President, let us seize this opportunity to do it.

“We also appeal to the powers that be now, to our president, Bola Ahmed Tinubu that the time for us to restructure this country is now if we do not do it, these children that we have abroad might not return home, they won’t come here,” Olanipekun said.

Previous alterations to the constitution, he noted, are “charades and widow dressing.”