A lawyer, Samson Omodara on Thursday said that since the emergence of democracy in Nigeria, the National Assembly has not been serious about providing a ‘people oriented’ constitution.
Mr Omodara, who was a guest on Channels Television’s programme, Sunrise Daily, said the parliament should have taken a proactive step to correct the erroneous preamble of the constitution that says ‘we the people of Nigeria make this constitution for ourselves.’
He accused the lawmakers of seeking to amend only sections of the constitution that concerns politics rather than the governance of the country.
“They should go to the nitty gritty of the constitution, sections that will benefit the people,” he said.
Nigeria’s first constitutions were enacted by order in council during the colonial era, when the country was administered as a Crown Colony. The constitutions enacted during this period were those of 1913 (which came into effect on 1 January 1914), 1922, 1946, 1951 (the Macpherson constitution), and 1954 (the Lyttelton constitution).
Nigeria’s first constitution as a sovereign state was enacted by a British order in council so as to come into force immediately upon independence, on 1 October 1960.
Independent Nigeria’s second constitution established the country as a federal republic. It came into force on 1 October 1963. The 1963 constitution, which was based on the Westminster system, continued in operation until a military coup in 1966 overthrew Nigeria’s democratic institutions.
The 1979 constitution, which brought in the Second Republic, abandoned the Westminster system in favour of an American-style presidential system, with a directly-elected executive. To avoid the pitfalls of the First Republic, the constitution mandated that political parties and cabinet positions reflect the “federal character” of the nation: political parties were required to be registered in at least two-thirds of the states, and each state had to have at least one member of the cabinet from it.
The 1993 constitution was intended to see the return of democratic rule to Nigeria with the establishment of a Third Republic, but was never fully implemented, and the military resumed power until 1999.
The 1999 constitution restored democratic rule to Nigeria, and remains in force today.
In January 2011, two amendments of the 1999 constitution were signed by President Goodluck Jonathan, the first modifications since the document came into use in 1999.
The National Assembly is currently working at amending sections of the constitution.
Mr Omodara suggested that the amendment of the constitution should begin from the state assemblies which have more population that the members of the two chambers of the National Assembly.
Watch complete interview below: