Legal luminary, Aare Afe Babalola (SAN) has said the 1999 Constitution is responsible for the myriad of challenges in Nigeria and called for its substitution, adding that the document cannot produce the best set of leaders for Nigeria.
The founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD) also called on Nigerian leaders to urgently address the issue of the country’s huge debts.
Babalola, who posited that the country is broke and on the brink of bankruptcy and collapse, said Nigeria risks being taken over by those who lent the country money.
Addressing journalists yesterday in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, the elder statesman expressed regret that the 2023 elections will be conducted under the 1999 Constitution, which he described as lopsided and faulty. He said money bags, not the best candidates, will emerge because of the present constitutional arrangement.
He urged the National Assembly to propose an Act to amend the present Constitution by substituting the 1960/63 Constitution for 1999 Constitution and also to establish an Interim National Government pending the making of a new constitution pursuant to Section 9(1) of the 1999 Constitution.
“Recall that in my address to the press on April 18, 2022, I urged the FG to suspend the 2023 elections and raise an interim government of six months that will fashion out a brand new construction for the country.
“I still stand by my suggestion that any election conducted under the 1999 Constitution cannot, and will not produce New leaders with new ideas. Rather, any election conducted under the present 199 Constitution, will merely result in recycling the same people who have brought Nigeria to grinding poverty, mass unemployment, underfunded education, insecurity and huge external debt. This is contrary to Section 14(2) (b) of the Constitution which provides that ‘the security and welfare of the people shall be the purpose of government.”
“ I have no sympathy for any Nigerian who is aspiring to rule Nigeria in any form, whether as Legislator, Governor or President. However, the fact remains that the 1999 Constitutional, on large measure, is the root cause of economic, social, political and religious problems in the country today.
“I am insisting that unless a new Constitution, similar to the good old days of 1960 and 1963 Constitutions, with necessary amendments, is put in place, none of the aspirants, and I deed no angel can save the country from total collapse.
“Our bitter experience since 1999 has taught us that we are in urgent need of a new Constitution which should provide for stringent conditions, in respect of age, academic qualifications, character and personality, as well as family background of candidates, especially for presidency and National Assemblies”.
Babalola, who claimed that Nigeria’s external debt had risen to N42.84 Trillion as at June, 30, 2022, while the domestic debt servicing rose to N5.24 Trillion in same period, said any Nigerian aspiring to lead Nigeria ought to be concerned and worried that the country was owing that much.
As part of immediate solutions, huge indebtedness, the senior lawyer suggested that all Nigerian billionaires and trillionaires, should make voluntary donations, through a Special Committe, to be set up by the Federal Government, for immediate payment of all, or substantial part of the huge debt.
“In addition, the government should emulate Obasanjo’s example by approaching the creditors, either for total debt forgiveness, or substantial reduction of the debt,” he said.