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We need a new constitution before 2023 — Afe Babalola

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Legal icon and elder statesman, Aare Afe Babalola, SAN, yesterday in an interview, tasked President Muhammadu Buhari to give the country a new constitution before the 2023 general elections.

In his words: “There’s need for restructuring. We need a new constitution before the next general elections. That can be achieved even between now and the next general elections.

“If President Buhari and the National Assembly are serious, we can still have a new constitution. It is not difficult.

“The only way out for us as a nation is to have a new constitution. We need to sit down and discuss the future of this country. We should go back to the 1960 Constitution.

“That is the way out in my interest, your interest and the interest of generations yet unborn.

“The 1999 Constitution is not in the interest of Nigerians, because it lied and said it was made by the people.

“Over centralisation of power in the center is causing a major problem for us in this country.

“Let us amend some areas that need to be amended like instead of the regions, let us have zones that will solve our problems. Amend the areas that allow people to contest and the areas that deal with the bi-camera legislature.

“We don’t need two legislatures, all we need in this country is just one legislature – less number of people, no salaries, allowances and it should be part-time. We need to cut costs.”

On the need for the National Assembly not to amend the Constitution, he said: “They are not addressing the issue, which is over-centralization of power in the center.

“Amendment in law means replacement too. They can replace; why are they amending? If you file an action or claim in court, you can still amend the claim by substituting it with a new one.

“Instead of amending clauses in the 1999 constitution, they should replace the constitution with the 1960 constitution. The 1999 constitution is what’s causing problems in the country and that is the over-centralization of power at the centre.

“Let them substitute 1960 with some clauses instead of amending the 1999 constitution.”

The legal icon, however, said he is in talks with prominent traditional rulers in the country on the need to convene a ‘Summit of Hope’ where the way forward for the country would be discussed.

He said: “We need to discuss the further of Nigeria now.”