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Afenifere Cautions on Powers to Call New Constitution on President

President Goodluck Jonathan
President Goodluck Jonathan
The Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) has cautioned the National Assembly on proposal to include a provision in the constitution that can allow a serving president to call for a new constitution, stressing that the lawmakers should however include a clause showing in clear terms when the president could exercise such powers.

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The group which made the observation in a statement signed by its publicity secretary, Kunle Famoriyo said the observation becomes pertinent since the 1999 Constitution already reeks of many undesirable lacunae that are currently exploited to the detriment of good governance.

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“While ARG will always support constitutional provisions for initiating a new constitution, we do not wish for such to be left to the exclusive interpretation of the office of the president. We wish to impress it on our federal legislators that the quest for a new constitution for Nigeria, of which the ARG is a notable vanguard, is premised upon the over centrality of power to the president in the 1999 Constitution.”

“Therefore, giving the President the power to call for a new constitution without stating unambiguously how and when such power could be activated will tie the country to the President’s apron strings.”

He said the proposed provisions must be exercised by the activation of a clearly defined and nationally acceptable procedure for convoking a Constituent Assembly.

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“There must also be constitutional provisions for referendum. By doing this, any new constitution that emerge will give procedural validation to the most important phrase in any constitution, “We the people”. We suggest that the Senate also organise a public hearing on this very important issue.”

Quoting a former US President, Theodore Roosevelt, said, “This country will not be a good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in”, and urged the National Assembly members “to rise above partisan political dictates and mutual suspicion and work out constitutional provisions for reviewing and validating Nigeria’s sovereignty.

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