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Mr. President: Nigeria Needs a New Constitution – By Dr. Onyema Nkwocha

By Dr. Onyema Nkwocha, USA, Sept. 13, 2011 –  My fellow Nigerians and people of the world, the country needs a new and radical constitution to address the current issues of the day and those of the unknown future. The truth of the matter is that the current so called constitution is a false, and after all, forced document upon the people of Nigeria. The so called constitution is not serving and has not served the will and the needs of the people. And, unless I misread its current temper, the country, Nigeria that is, demands a bold, Constitutional Convention to right the wrongs of the past and finally give the people a chance to determine their national destiny. Nigeria’s current 1999 Constitution (the supreme law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of the 4th Republic,) is a roguish and false constitution not drafted of, for, and by the people but rather a document hastily put together by an illegal criminal and “retreating” military junta.  Afterwards, this false document was then forced unto the people of Nigeria under the pretext of a constitution agreed upon, written, and adopted by “we the people,” as that document currently states. Based on this known fact that Nigeria’s so-called 1999 Constitution was set and based on a false premise as attested to in its preamble, of ”… We the people,” when we did not, I therefore, call upon President Jonathan to give Nigeria a new Constitution, and the members of the National House of Assembly and Senate to begin and make possible, the processes of a National Constitutional Convention to give Nigerians the denied opportunity to determine their own national destiny by writing for and giving to themselves a befitting and authentic national constitution. In his recent article, Nigeria is right to Recognize Libya’s Transitional Council,” published in elombah.com, Professor E. Oparaoji hits the nail on the head when he said these among other things, and I could not agree any less, thus:

“To ensure continued progress on the home front, we urge President Jonathan to begin the challenging process of crafting a brand new people’s constitution for Nigeria. Our so called 1999 constitution (even as amended), is a rogue document that lacks credibility, because it lied from its opening paragraphs when it says;

“…… We the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, having firmly and solemnly resolved, to live in unity and harmony as one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign nation under God, dedicated to the promotion of inter-African solidarity, world peace, international cooperation and understanding, and to provide for a Constitution for the purpose of promoting the good government and welfare of all persons in our country, on the principles of freedom, equality and justice, and for the purpose of consolidating the unity of our people; Do hereby make, enact and give to ourselves the following Constitution…..:-“

This so-called constitution was handed to us by a retreating, and disgraced military establishment; it was never by “We the People”.

Jonathan’s Transformational Agenda will just be rhetoric and another wasted opportunity, if not anchored to a constitution we can embrace as ours…”

I absolutely agree with Professor Oparaoji. I think any or all enlightened Nigerians will also agree too. As far as we know it, there has never been a time, since the forced British amalgamation of the South and North that Nigerians have been given any chance or opportunity to determine their own national destiny. That denied opportunity would have allowed Nigerians to form a country of their choice and give to themselves, a constitution of their choice that they can identify with, rally round for support and strength and that they could proudly then refer to as given to themselves by “we, the people.”

The last time I checked, and if am not mistaken, one of the characteristics of humans that differentiates us from lower beings is the ability to consciously and rationally take past and current knowledge and project that knowledge into the future. Building a successful virile, united progressive and democratic society is dependent upon several factors one of which is the peoples’ willingness and preferred choice to come together, merge their several and individual God-given rights together to form a “commonwealth.” The natural laws that each fellow Nigerian possesses goes, and transcends beyond man made laws or constitution. As such, man in his original God-endowed rights and liberties have the fundamental right to life, liberty, property, and pursuit of happiness and self governance as he sees fit.

Therefore, for there to be a legitimate government, that government must of necessity, first, obtain its legitimacy from the consent of the people whom it must then govern. By the same token, for that legitimate government and governance thereof to take place or exist, the individual Nigerian citizen must first, voluntarily, by reflection and choice rather than force and without any coercion, and fraud, surrender some of his or her natural freedoms in the state of nature to this common wealth government. Because consent of the governed implies that all citizens must accept all decisions made by the government which is practically impossible, therefore government can then operate smoothly by garnering the consent of the general will of the majority. Thus, as this becomes a social contract, the citizens surrender part of their God-given inalienable or bequeathed rights to this commonwealth government in lieu of having the right to abolish, change and or to recall this government at any time the people feel that the government is no longer answerable to their needs and wishes and therefore no longer beneficial to them. 

So far, Nigerians have gotten a raw deal when it comes to being part of a country and answering citizens of that country.  First the Nigerian nation was forcefully colonized and in 1904, yet again, by force, amalgamated or joined into one nation without the CONSENT of the governed – the people!
With this obvious first ingredient in the making of a cohesive nation, the consent of the governed lacking, and with no unifying affinity (such as a constitution mutually agreed upon and written by the people) along with no mutual relationship existing between and among the peoples of the Igbos, Yorubas, Hausa, Fulanis, Efiks, Kanuris, Ibibios, Degemas, Igala, Calabars etc, series of forced constitutions were made for the people of the lower Niger otherwise called Nigerians by that one Briton, Flora Shaw, Lord Lugard’s wife. First it was the Richard’s Constitution of 1946, then the Macpherson’s Constitution of 1951. And when these two Constitutions failed to meet British needs, they changed them and designed the Lyttleton Constitution of 1954. In all these, no attempt was made to invite the people of Nigeria to the Constitutional convention or deliberations to give them the initial and fundamental chance to decide their own fate as a people and nation. The truth be told though, the current 1999 constitution is based on a false premise. It has not met the needs of Nigerians at large, has failed the people and nation, has not served the government right because of its many obvious structural defects of not reflecting the federal character and therefore deserves to be changed and replaced. And this is the time!

Hence it is imperative now that Jonathan reverses this course of history and formally and finally recognizes the need to give Nigerians their first chance in over 107 years to determine their national destiny, call for a National Constitution Convention to give the people an opportunity to give to themselves, a new Constitution of the people, by the people and for the people.  A constitution designed by the people’s representatives, that meets their needs and that they can readily identify with, and rally round at all times, and that creates a government answerable to them, is what the Nigerian people needs now.  Nigeria truly needs a constitution crafted by the people’s representatives based on their needs and of which they can proudly standup and say “we the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, having firmly and solemnly resolved, to live in unity and harmony as one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign nation under God,…; Do hereby make, enact and give to ourselves the following Constitution…..” And President Jonathan can make it happen; otherwise his overtly and publicly declared “transformational governance manifesto will remain just what it is, a mere political propaganda. And so, the question for President Jonathan is this: if not now, when can Nigerians be given the first chance in 107 years to determine their own national fate by writing a constitution of their own, by themselves and for themselves? Therefore, if not President Jonathan in his well obvious transformational onward march toward rebuilding Nigeria, who else?

Written by

Dr. Onyema Nkwocha

USA, September 5, 2011

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Posted by on Sep 13 2011. Filed under Articles, Columnists, Constitution, Goodluck Jonathan (2010-present), NNP Columnists, Onyema Nkwocha, Presidency. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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