Adopted on May 29, 1999, the fourth Nigerian constitution after independence was on January 10, 2011 signed by President Goodluck Jonathan, after the first modification since the constitution came to use.
Currently undergoing its second amendment, the 1999 Constitution, which specifies the legislative power of the federal, state and local governments is slated for a review on areas such as devolution of powers fiscal federalism, state creation, the Nigeria Police, local government system, rotation of executive officers, executive and judicial reforms, among others.
The chairman of the committee on constitution review, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, at the public hearing held in Abuja, said that no constitution stands the test of eternity, let alone those bequeathed by undemocratic regimes, with less than satisfactory inputs by the people it is supposed to serve.
With many Nigerians earnestly yearning for a change, the Nigerian Tribune conducted an opinion poll on whether a review of the constitution is what is needed or a new one entirely. Of the 482 people who participated in the poll on Tribune's website, 334 people representing 69.3 per cent are of the opinion that a new constitution is what the country needs, while 100 people representing 20.7 per cent were indifferent to it. Twenty six people (5.4%) voted against the motion for a new constitution.
Below there are some comments posted on Tribune's Facebook page:
Oladiti Sadiq: There are two perspectives to this. First, the current one is not well utilised, because if it is, the impact would have been felt in the nation and secondly, if it had been well utilised, the areas that need amendments must be obvious to all Nigerians.
Oseni Kunmi: We do not need a new constitution, but a review of the current one and a good implementation of it would do.
Oni Jonathan Babatunde: Either a renewal or the amendment of the constitution, both can't achieve its proper cause. We cannot keep doing things the same way and expect different results. It is our leaders that need to change or be changed. All that the citizens expect from the leaders now tend to be just imaginary changes. There must be a change, because their ruling methods have made Nigerians to believe that politics is a money making venture rather than a serving unit. Until we have political office holders who are ready to serve and abide by every letter in the constitution, that is when we are going to have the Nigeria of our dream.
James David: The problem is not with the constitution, rather, with the people. You may have a detailed constitution, but if it is not well implemented, then it makes no difference. The question I can pose is; is our constitution not better than those of the countries doing well? That is because they have good leaders who respect the law.
Akinniyi Oluwagbeyi: The letters of the constitution matter less, the most important thing is the spirit of the implementation. The failure hitherto is an indictment of the ruling class. We just have to pray for leaders that have the fear of God in them.
Ojo joseph: We need an amendment of the existing one where the immunity of corrupt serving government officials should be removed.
Obafunso Ayodeji: Either of the two would suffice. The current one has too many flaws and as a media man, I can only talk on the part that deals with the media. Chapter 4, section 39, subsection 1 and 2 talks about freedom of the press, where the constitution gives the right to every person to own and establish a medium for dissemination of information. Subsection 2 gives total power to the president to decide who owns a wireless telegraph or broadcast station, which I think violates the tenets of the democratic rule. The government shouldn't be in the position to decide if I could open a television or radio station even when I have the money. Though Decree 38 of 1992 constitution saw to the creation of the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission?"(NBC) which is believed to have brought about the deregulation of the broadcast industry, yet the constitution still empowers the office of the president to grant licenses to anybody who wants to own one. So I think that section of the constitution should be reviewed or totally removed, it is not a law that is obtainable in a democratic setting. Even though it is the reality on ground here in Nigeria, I still believe such powers should belong to the people and not the government.
Ogunade Sunday Temmythorpe: All we need is a review of the current constitution.
Adegoke Ay Jonpaul: Whatever, we don't have problems with the constitution. The leadership is the problem.
Akinrogunde Omolere Moses: Either way is good.
And what's your opinion about this? Do you agree or disagree?