Afe Babalola, founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, says politicians are benefiting from the “flaws” in the 1999 constitution.
In an interview with TheSun, Babalola said because they are beneficiaries of the constitution, they would not be able to make proper amendments where necessary.
The 1999 constitution was drawn under the supervision of the military, and some of its contents were part of the draft constitution prepared under Sani Abacha, the late head of state.
The senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN) explained that the calls for the amendment of the constitution were not necessary, adding that what was needed was a sovereign national conference to produce a new constitution that would benefit the ordinary people.
“The only way out is not an amendment to the flawed constitution but a new people’s constitution through a sovereign national conference,” he said.
“The politicians who are in government, in the national assembly, and who are benefiting from the flawed constitution can never make any good and proper constitution for this country and no amendment can ever do so.
“In 1965, we had a house of assembly and the senate. Nobody earned salaries then; what they earned was sitting allowance.
“Look at the house of assembly, senate. Now, hardly will you find 50 people there in a day and they earn salaries. They even talked about pension. So, there is no way you can amend the constitution. They will make sure that they remain earning these billions of naira. We are the only country where people earn billions.”
According to him, the 1999 constitution was drafted to allow the “military to perpetuate themselves in power”.
“For example, Awolowo paid 55 percent of the revenue on education, knowing the importance of education. People saw themselves as Nigerians then. Unfortunately, the military came in 1966, jettisoned the constitution and ruled by decrees. When they were going away in 1999, they did not return us to the constitution which they suspended and then they brought their own constitution and presented it as constitution made by Nigerians. That was a lie; even right from the face of it, it was a lie,” Babalola said.
“Actually, the constitution they made was done in such a way that it will allow the military to perpetuate themselves in power, and that is why you find, all the time, those who are in the military were coming back in one form or the other. We have never had good government ever since.”
The lawyer said the only way Nigeria could get it right with its constitution is by calling for a “sovereign national conference”.
“The meaning of that is that whatever they decide will not be subject to amendments by these people,” he said.
“I have participated in many conferences and at the end of the day what comes out of it? They want to spend another N2 billion for amendment; what are you amending?”