- The Nigerian 1999 constitution is believed to be severely flawed and was cunningly hatched
- The 1963 Constitution is desired by many
Chief Robert Clarke, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), has opined that the major socio-political challenges that Nigeria continues to face are largely due to the deficiencies in the 1999 Constitution. He posits that a return to the principles of the 1963 Constitution could serve as a solution.
According to Clarke, the 1999 constitution has conferred an excessive amount of power onto the president and the governors, making it difficult to hold them accountable for misconduct or mismanagement of public resources while they’re still in office.
“We have labeled ourselves a federal republic, yet our constitution lacks the key components that define a federal republic,” Clarke pointed out. He went on to criticize the current system where state governors monthly collect funds from the federal government, expressing concerns about the lack of transparency and appropriation with regard to these funds.
The seasoned legal expert proposed that a committee be set up to review the 1963 Constitution and adjust it to suit the modern context. He believes such a move could significantly alleviate the country’s current issues.
“The overhead associated with governance is excessive. We could function with just four or five regions and a single House of Assembly. This is where most of our financial resources are drained,” Clarke argued.
These comments were made during a special event held in Lagos to celebrate Clarke’s 85th birthday and the merger of two legal practices: Chief Robert Clarke (SAN) and Ade Oshodi Partners, into a single firm.
Clarke maintained that federalism remains the optimal choice for Nigeria, given its complex diversity. He also highlighted corruption as a major adversary of the people.
He further stressed the need to revisit constitutional provisions regarding the appointment of judges, suggesting that current practices favor political connections over merit.
Ade Oshodi, who has committed to perpetuating Clarke’s legal legacy, expressed optimism that the judiciary will overcome its present hurdles, maintaining that it remains the bastion of hope for the average citizen.
The event was attended by a host of legal dignitaries including Justices Candide Johnson (rtd), Oyekan Abdullai (rtd); Segun Fabunmi (SAN); Adeniji Kazeem (SAN); Dr. Basheer Oshodi; Rilwan Dawodu; and Lawal Pedro (SAN) among others.
SOURCE: The Guardian
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