BY EMEKA EJERE
Constitutional lawyer and human right activist, Mike Ozekhome on Saturday wondered why the National Assembly was wary of ideas like ‘referendum’ and ‘a people’s constitution’.
Ozekhome, whose position was against the backdrop of calls for a referendum by many Nigerians to decide the future of the nation, spoke while appearing on a Channels Television Democracy Day special programme.
However, the Buhari administration has maintained that the ongoing constitutional review being undertaken by the National Assembly will be enough to align the 1999 constitution with people’s expectation, a notion rejected by critics like Ozekhome.
“In trying to restructure this behemoth, this elephantine, this very unwieldy, unitary federation, which passes for a federal system of government, how do we go about it? That has always been the question. And I have never underrated the role of the National Assembly. But the National Assembly itself, on the other hand, does not seem to understand what it ought to do,” the Senior Advocate of Nigeria said.
“I took on frontally the Deputy Senate President, Senator Omo-Agege on this issue penultimate Friday at the International Conference Centre, where I explained on a blow-by-blow account how to bring about what we call a people’s constitution, after a referendum.
“These are words that these people are afraid of. I don’t know why they are afraid of a referendum or a people’s constitution. It was done in Eritrea, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Kenya, South Africa, Singapore, Morocco.
“These people, even with a government in power, were able to start a new document called the people’s constitution, which was subjected to the people in a referendum.”