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Anyaoku’s solutions to Nigeria’s problems

Chief Emeka Anyaoku has consistently used every occasion to posit that Nigeria will not make any progress if the constitution that is being used to…

Chief Emeka Anyaoku has consistently used every occasion to posit that Nigeria will not make any progress if the constitution that is being used to govern it is not discarded. He has the belief that the 1999 constitution is too flawed to be used by political leaders in administering Nigeria. But is not the only Nigerian who has highlighted the shortcomings and flaws inherent in the country’s constitution.

A constitution is a body of laws and rules regarding how a country or an organisation should be governed. But in Nigeria, it is widely believed that citizens did not reach a consensus that they should be governed based on the dictates of the 1999 constitution. So, is the 1999 constitution by which our political leaders are administering Nigeria a fraudulent and flawed document?

A constitution ought to be a representation of the wishes and aspirations of the people of a country as to how they should be governed. So, given the centrality of the constitution in our political leaders’ administration of Nigeria, Chief Anyaoku’s advice and remark about our constitution should not be dismissed with a wave of the hand. Neither should they be treated with levity. In fact, he is in a vantage position to proffer solutions to Nigeria’s myriad of problems, especially on matters that revolve around the country’s constitution and its heterogeneous composition and/or nature.

An international diplomat par excellence, who trained in classics at the University of Ibadan (UI), Chief Anyaoku has always been a keen follower of political events in Nigeria. Before he served as the Secretary General of the Commonwealth of Nations between 1990 and 2000, he was Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. He is, therefore, well-acquainted with Nigeria’s democratic culture and the evolutionary trend of its politics.

In addition to making strident calls for the making of a new constitution for Nigeria, Chief Anyaoku wants the political leaders to take a leaf from the democratic models of united and developed countries which are also heterogeneous. He thinks that our past and current leaders’ inability to effectively manage our diversities is at the root of our national malaise.

During the celebration of his 91st birthday on January 18, 2024, which coincided with the opening of the Emeka & Bunmi Anyaoku Foundation Centre, Chief Anyaoku talked glowingly about how Switzerland and Canada, which are pluralistic nation-states, have been led successfully over the years by their political leaders. He echoed the same sentiments when he led The Patriots to commemorate Nigeria’s Democracy Day on June 12, 2024.

But not every pluralistic nation-state is united. Examples of heterogeneous countries that disintegrated are many. In Europe, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia split with other countries emerging from them. In Africa, South Sudan pulled out of Sudan while Eritrea broke away from Ethiopia.

Nigeria, a densely populated country, is bedevilled by ethnic and religious problems because it is populated by diverse ethnic groups who profess different religions. Nigeria could be likened to a cat with nine lives in that it emerged from many ethno religious troubles, political conflicts and a civil war.

However, now, ethnic hatred, as well as rivalries and religious conflicts, which erode our national unity and cohesion, are simmering beneath Nigeria’s facade of oneness and unity. Bo disunited country can achieve true and sustainable economic prosperity and technological advancement.

Chief Anyaoku, who is aware of the centrality of unity to a country’s development, wants Nigeria to become a truly united country. His theses or solutions for solving Nigeria’s multifarious problems rest on two planks: developing a democratic model for managing the country’s ethnic and religious diversities and making a new constitution for Nigeria. Making a new constitution for Nigeria has become an overriding imperative because the emergence of new political realities in our country has thrown up national conundrums.

However, since the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates, which gave birth to Nigeria, several constitutions have been made and used in the administration of the country. The constitutions include Lyttleton’s Constitution, Clifford’s Constitution, Richard’s Constitution, Bourdillion’s Constitution, MacPherson’s Constitution, 1963 and 1960 republican constitutions and the 1979 and 1999 federal constitutions. Each of the constitutions has its characteristics which the framers thought suitable and necessary for use in governing Nigeria.

But now, the evolutionary trends of our politics have thrown up new realities and national conundrums which should be addressed by a new constitution. Matters like the creation of state police, the role of monarchs, local government autonomy and true fiscal federalism should be holistically and comprehensively addressed by the new constitution.

And it is fact that a country’s constitution, which must emanate from the people, should be a guide for competent, scrupulous, patriotic and visionary leaders who preside over the affairs of the country. The centrality of a good constitution in the efficient administration of a country cannot be disputed.

That is the reason Chief Anyaoku called for the making of a new constitution for Nigeria when The Patriots commemorated Democracy Day in Lagos on June 12, 2024. He suggested that three representatives from each state of the federation and one from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) should form a constituent assembly for the sole purpose of drafting a new constitution. The state assemblies and the National Assembly should play the roles expected of them in the matter too.

Again, Chief Anyaoku, who, romanticised the 1960 and 1963 republican constitutions, said he would like members of the proposed constituent assembly to review and study the 1960 and 1963 constitutions with a view of incorporating some parts of it into the new constitution, which would address our national problems.

However, a country’s possession of a good and comprehensive constitution cannot guarantee rapid technological advancement and economic progress if the country’s political leaders are unpatriotic, unscrupulous, incompetent, myopic and egoistic.

Okoye, a poet, wrote from Uruowulu-Obosi, Anambra State.

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