Despite the shortcomings of the 1999 Constitution, methinks the Nigerian challenge is not with the Constitution, but essentially those charged with its implementation and the citizens to a lesser degree. By this I mean, we should be addressing the failure of rule of law, values and ethics, and impunity in governance and all over.
“We should be talking about those who occupy executive, legislative, and judicial positions in government who act with impunity, and enthrone mediocrity and incompetence. The same applies to individual citizens who act with impunity, and despise the rule of law, as well as ethics and values. Rule of law, according to Carothers, primarily encompasses accountability, transparency, crime and punishment, and separation of powers. Perhaps, most importantly, the government officials must accept that the law will be applied to their own conduct, and the government seeks to be law-abiding.
“To what extent are these true of Nigeria? Just this week, the Federal Government granted pardon to the only two former Governors that have been convicted and imprisoned-how does that decision impact upon the fight against corruption – which is our greatest challenge? There is no doubt that the failure to punish past corrupt public officers is the reason for the current impunity. And when crime and punishment apply discriminately, do we expect crimes to abate?
‘As such, the listed challenge of ‘insecurity, economic, political and other excruciating ills bedevilling the nation will only be addressed when there is rule of law encompassing accountability, transparency, crime and punishment, and separation of powers. The legal framework under the present Constitution has adequate provisions on rule of law.”
I preferred sovereign national confab —Fashanu, SAN
Mr. Babatunde Fashanu, SAN in his reaction, said: “My preference would have been for a sovereign national conference to remodel Nigeria with or without a guaranty against secession, but in the circumstances we find ourselves, I think Chief Babalola’s thesis is a close alternative.
“He is right that nothing can be achieved with the continuation of the present 1999 Constitution which, in the first case, is not a people’s Constitution as it lies against them with the preamble “We the people” The 1999 Constitution is a fraud perpetrated on the people of Nigeria by its military and those who midwifed it must bear the cross of the abyss we are presently in.
“The problem with the proposal though is the modus operandi of arriving at the Interim Government – who and who agree to set it up and under what template – however, we can arrive there under the doctrine of necessity because, otherwise means gloom and doom for Nigeria which, if we must stop kidding ourselves, is already a failed state or very near being one.”
It’s an attractive option —Sowemimo, SAN
Seyi Sowemimo, SAN, said: “Yes, I believe that it is an attractive option as the political parties as presently constituted cannot move this nation forward and it has become crucial to restructure this country before anything else. We need drastic changes and a cleansing of the political class.”
Not contemplated by the constitution —Adegoke, SAN
On his part, Kunle Adegoke, SAN, said: The suggestion of an interim government being put place, made by Chief Babalola, I believe is a brilliant suggestion, however, the Constitutionality and practicality of that suggestion are a different kettle of fish all together. I believe that the suggestion by Chief Babalola was brought about by spirit of patriotism and love for all Nigerians country but unfortunately, the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria does not contemplate an interim government as process of transition from one government to another. What it contemplates is periodic election every four year, for the purpose of electing the executive and to that extent the implication is the suggestion is not possible.
“Until there would probably be an amendment to the construction, that would recognise the need to an interim government in place which will be way amendment by the National Assembly or until there a revolution overthrowing the current constitution and now impose an interim government for the purpose of putting in place another constitution, only then can such a suggestion be possible, but as it is the suggestion is not possible and practicable.”
It’s achievable through constitutional amendment —Opara, SAN
Victor Opara, also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said: “How will this work? There is no provision for interim governance under the present constitution. It can only be done through constitutional amendment. The problem with Nigeria is insincerity of leadership and followership.”
Nigeria’s problem is leadership —Omodele
Yemi Omodele in his reaction, said: “With due respect to the learned SAN, I think his proposition is his personal opinion which he is entitled to.
“Baba is a Nigerian. He has observed alot in respect of the present administration and the constitution of the land but calling for interim government of six months administration with due respect will not solve the problems we are facing in Nigeria.
“Chief is a sound lawyer, father to lawyers and mentor to some judges but he is not a practicing politician.
“Politicians are desperate in all spheres. They can forecast what will happen in the next twenty years in Nigerian politics which they would have planned for. We have tasted interim governance in the country before. Did we gain anything from it? I think no. We can have a fresh constitution for Nigeria without interim government if politicians want us to have it.
“There was a conference held during Jonathan government. Where is the document? Under the cooler. If interim government comes, the report or findings come, politicians will keep it in the cooler. The solution to Nigeria’s problem is good leadership.”
It’s worth considering —Dr Igbinedion
Dr. Simeon Igbinedion of UNILAG-Law Dept, in his reaction, said, “The option is worth considering because, without prejudice to constitutional provisions, it would be extremely difficult for the current government on whose complacent watch violent non-state actors have turned Nigeria into one huge slaughter field to oversee a free and fair election.
“If the government goes ahead to organise the elections slated for next year, many Nigerians would for the fear of their lives stay away and thereby pave way for the government to more easily manipulate election results in favour of its cronies and sycophants. I know most Nigerians are eager to see the back of this government but I think we must do what is practical and reasonable to prepare a level playing field for contestants to vie and for Nigerians to cast their votes in a relatively safe, secure and stable Nigeria.”
Implementation major challenge —Adegborioye
Adenrele Adegborioye, in his opinion said, “It is a good option but the problem is that like all good policies, ideas and proposal in Nigeria, it cannot be well implemented. The problem is not lack of good policies and ideas but the lack of will power on the part of our leaders to implement the policies available.
“For instance, there are some questions that needs answers in this Interim government now been suggested; who will head the interim government? How will he be chosen? Will the interim government not pursue ethnic agenda as it is always the case in Nigeria? Can this present government genuinely hand over to an independent interim government when those encouraging and benefiting from the banditry that is now rampant are part and parcel of this govt? Many of those in government are benefiting from the ills and problems bedevilling this country today. They will want to maintain status quo and resist any change.”
Current govt can achieve same goal—Elimihe
Sonnie Elimihe, said: “I disagree with Chief Babalola, SAN. The current government has the power and capacity to call for constitutional amendment without necessarily setting up an interim government. I strongly believe that what an interim government would achieve, the government in power also has the capacity to handle.”
Interim govt not needed to elect credible leaders — Ochai
Emmanuel Ochai, said: “No. We don’t need an interim government to elect credible leaders who will pilot the affairs of this country and secure the country. The constitution does not make provision for interim government.”
It will be an aberration — Awe
Babatunde Awe, on the other hand, argues, “While Chief’s idea is exceptionally brilliant, it would be a serious aberration to attempt it. Chief’s reasoning is based on the fact that our constitution is fundamentally faulty and there is urgent need to create a fresh constitution for Nigeria.
“While his premises are quite sound, the idea itself of supplanting a democratically elected government with a caricature of a government would kill Nigeria. It won’t work and I don’t support the idea.
“We have a National Assembly. I think influential people like Chief and his contemporaries should instead focus on using their broad influence in the political and business circles to get our legislature to do their job and give us a truly Nigerian constitution. If he and Nigerians can’t do that with the existing democratic structures, then the respected, Chief’s suggestion will only be a pipe dream with a rag-tag collection of all the strange bedfellows Chief has suggested.”
Interim govt not solution — Akingbolu
For Kabir Akingbolu, “I know we have serious challenges in the country in terms of security and the president seems not to bother still, overwhelmed by the situation, but then, the solution does not lie in interim government. It is better for us to find solutions to the myriad of problems ravaging the country within the prescint of our amorphous civil rule called democracy. That way, we shall be able to correct and bring under control, any untoward event that may try to dissuade or frustrate the object of such move.
“Although, several moves had been made in the past in the names of various confabs, I submit that those who made the move then did so for personal or political reasons. That was why the reports from such obnoxious confabs were never implemented. Be that as it may, it is not in doubt that at this juncture, we need a true federalism and veritable restructuring.”
Nigerian federation should be renegotiated —Ojo
Gbenga Ojo, said: “Good suggestion but I think that, it amounts to throwing the baby away with water. I think that it is better to have the election, with all its vagaries, manipulations and imperfections. After that, either we dust the report of the various national conferences, harmonise them and chart the way forward.
“The problem of Nigeria is not only about the constitution. We need to renegotiate the Federation. Bishop Kukah hit the nail on the head. Nigeria is disintegrating. There is need to renegotiate the “marriage of Inconvenience” or geographical expression called Nigeria. I think this is more important than the talk about having a new constitution. The problems of Nigeria are more than the constitution. In summary we need to renegotiate the corporate existence of Nigeria.”