Prof Auwal Yadudu, a former Legal Adviser to the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, has challenged President-General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief John Nwodo and Afenifere leader, Pa Ayo Adebanjo on their calls for the restructuring of the country.
The law professor said that the restructuring advocates should channel their grievances through the legal order created by the 1999 Constitution.
He also carpeted the duo’s call for a “people-oriented” constitution, after they slammed the 1999 Constitution as a document forced on Nigerians by the North-controlled military.
According to Yadudu, the beliefs that the constitution was forced on Nigerians and is hampering the nation’s progress were fallacies.
He explained that Justice Niki Tobi chaired the Committee that produced the 1999 Constitution.
Yadudu stated these during a Zoom conference organised by Governance Index with the theme, “The Coronavirus Pandemic: Good Governance, Restructuring and the 1999 Constitution”.
He further explained that the committee went across the length and breadth of the nation on consultation while coming up with the constitution.
Yadudu said that as the stakeholders the committee interacted with overwhelmingly demanded a return of the 1979 Constitution, the 1999 Constitution was fashioned after its predecessor.
The law professor said, “The mistake has been continuously made that this Constitution is a military constitution and we should have nothing to do with. They often say we would not make progress if we do not throw it into a ditch.
“My take on the 1999 Constitution is that it was adopted along the 1979 Constitution. You may say the 1979 Constitution is an imposition by the military, but I think that basic structure of 1954, 1960, and 1963 constitutions have remained what it is.
“You have a chapter on Fundamental Rights which as far as I can tell is also being improved upon. You have a chapter that defined the power of states and the executive, judiciary and legislature. You have a constitution with legislative list and exclusive and concurrent. What is in this feature that is uniquely an imposition of either on 1979 or 1999? It is not a perfect document. It can be improved on.
“It is a fallacy to keep saying it is an imposition and that we will not go further if we do not jettison it.
“If you want to discuss restructuring in relation to the constitution, stop beating around the bush, the existing legal order is the 1999 Constitution. It has ways and means of changing or jettisoning it.
“I don’t see any problem in restructuring. Whether you want to combine the whole South-West to become a region again or six zones to become a political entity and make it federation, or if you want confederation system, is not a problem.
“I think we can work within the existing legal order and you have no other basis for changing things except in accordance with an existing legal order. I know that the answer to that is that it is difficult to achieve, but wherever the constitution has been changed, they made use of what they have and of course, you can change by revolution, if you can afford it. You can enthrone whatever beautiful ideas that you want to enthrone not necessarily by reference to constitutional provision.
“I was a member of the committee that went round and got the view of Nigerians and at the end of the day it was reported that Nigerians overwhelmingly supported return of 1979 Constitution with necessary amendment. So the Provisional Ruling Council had no role in writing anything. I was only part of the Committee chaired by late Justice Niki Tobi which adopted the recommendation that we should go back to 1979 Constitution.
“It will silly for anyone to say I wrote 1999 Constitution.”