A former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, was sworn into office as President in 1999 with a constitution which nobody had seen, the immediate past President of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nwodo, has said.
Nwodo disclosed this while speaking at the 18th Daily Trust Dialogue with the theme: “Restructuring: Why? How?” held on Thursday in Abuja.
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Nwodo was the Information Minister in the Abdulsalami Abubakar-led government.
He said even though he was a member of the Federal Executive Council, no member of the council saw a copy of the 1999 constitution before the Obasanjo government was inaugurated.
Nwodo, who was one of the speakers at the event, said the constitution was drafted by 47 persons appointed by the then Head of State, 40 of which were military officers.
“I was Minister of Information and it was my responsibility to publicise the constitution.
“I never saw a copy and never knew who was printing it.
“The National Assembly could not be inaugurated until four days after the President’s inauguration because there was no clean copy of the constitution,” he said.
Watch Nwodo here:
‘Why we should restructure’
Nwodo posited that the only way to return Nigeria to the path of development is to restructure.
“We should restructure because the constitutional history of Nigeria shows that the only constitutions of the Federal Republic of Nigeria made by all the ethnic groups in Nigeria, were the 1960 and 1963 Constitutions.
“The 1999 Constitution overthrew the sovereignty of the regions over their national resources and domestic security unleashing in the process an unprecedented fall of education standards, domestic security, and economic wellbeing,” he insisted.
Nwodo added that, “to restructure Nigeria, we need a constitutional conference of all the ethnic groups in Nigeria.
“To use the current National Assembly as the forum for constitutional amendments grants a tacit recognition of the overthrow of our democratic norms by the enthronement of a military constitution by which they are composed.”
he said the outcome of the constitutional conference must be subjected to a public plebiscite in which all adult Nigerians should have the right to vote.
“This process should be open, it should be supervised by international agencies to validate its transparency and thereafter usher new elections based on its provisions and structure.
“This process, in my view, will ultimately refocus our country, breed a democratic culture that emphasizes more on selfless service rather than individual enrichment, promote genuine unity instead of ethnic bigotry and challenge our capacity to exploit our abundant potentialities to make life more abundant for our people,” the elder statesman posited.