Some delegates yesterday expressed divergent views over the status of the 1999 constitution. First to fire the salvo was Kinse Okoko, a professor of political science, who described the constitution as “fraudulent.”
He said the country’s myriad of problems were not due to attitude but due to structural defects laden in the constitution.
He stated that it was the system of government in the country that produced the attitudinal problem associated with Nigerians, and condemned the overconcentration of power and wealth at the central government which he put at the ratio of 60 percent to 30 percent.
He said public office holders and politicians have become looters with attendant do-or-die struggle for power to grab the money, saying that until the system was restructured, the country would not make any headway.
Professor Okoko disclosed that 546 million gallons of oil has spilled in the Niger Delta where he held from while the land in the area has been rendered useless, and recommended that a committee of eminent persons should be appointed to interface with the National Assembly to transmit the resolutions of the conference into a constitution.
While Okoko was seated, a delegate representing the federal government at the conference, Alhaji Adamu Waziri challenged him for describing the constitution as “fraudulent,” saying the professor was indecorous to refer to the constitution as fraudulent.
He said the president derives power to convene the national conference from the 1999 constitution and so it cannot be fraudulent, adding that the constitution have its flaws which required correction by the conference.
Another speaker, Dr Isaac Osuoka, representing the civil society, supported the assertion that the 1999 constitution was fraudulent, saying that the former Military Head of State, General Abdusalami Abubakar (rtd) hurriedly cooked up the constitution to conduct elections in 1998.
Osuoka said as a beneficiary of the magnanimity of General Abubakar, who released political detainees in the country, the general hurriedly put up a transition programme in defiance of the advice of the civil society to convoke a sovereign national conference.
He stated that the aim of the advice was to give the country a new constitution that would understand the nature of the country as political community.
Supporting his claim by definition of fraudulent from the Webster Dictionary, Osuoka stated that today every institution of government run by the General Abubakar’s constitution is fraudulent, appealing to the delegates to ensure that a new constitution emerged from their deliberations.