A professor of law and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Itse Sagay has urged the Nigerian government to scrap the current constitution and adopt the 1963 republican constitution.
He made the recommendation when he appeared on Channels TV’s Politics Today on Monday.
According to him, the 1963 Republican Constitution addresses everything that is being agitated for in the country.
“My own personal preference is that we should scrap this constitution and adopt the 1963 republican constitution. That constitution contains everything that is being agitated for. If we had that, with amendments here and there to make it accommodate states rather than regions which we used to have, I think all these agitations will die down and everybody will be happy.”
Reacting to a question on if President Muhammadu Buhari has the political will to implement the 1963 constitution, Sagay, who is also the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, said he had no idea.
He, however, noted that there was a report of the Nasir El-Rufai-led All Progressives Congress Committee on Restructuring.
For him, the committee came up with an excellent report, stressing the need to look at the content of the documents and implement them.
Sagay said, “I really don’t know but this is what I will say, his (Buhari’s) party commissioned the El-Rufai committee to work on the issue of federalism and they have come out with an excellent document. I think what we need to do is to look at the contents of those documents and implement them. And if they are to be implemented, it will be better if they are implemented in a totally new constitution instead of trying to amend the existing one.”
He explained that the move by the APC to set up such a committee in the first instance was indicative that President Buhari was in favour of federalism and devolution of powers.
He, however, said, “I am personally disappointed that that document is being allowed to gather dust and I think the leaders of the party should now bring it out and go to the President and say, we should now make a move to implement what we ourselves commissioned and have approved because that is what the whole country wants now.”
As one of the few people who have virtually seen Nigeria from the beginning, the octogenarian revealed that he knew nothing about the Federal Government as a secondary school student.
He recalled that governance was being controlled at the regional level, noting that there was so much peace in the land at the time.
“I only knew about Ibadan and (Obafemi) Awolowo; the region controlled my life from A-Z and everything worked perfectly, beautifully, happily. That is what we are missing. We just have to go back to that otherwise Nigeria will not enjoy stability,” he said.
Sagay added, “If we can have a process which will be towards having a new Constitution, it will be better. Until we have it, we can manage with what the National Assembly is doing but certainly, it is far from satisfactory but may result in an improvement of what we have now.
“But what we really need is a clear departure from what we have. What we have now is a unitary constitution parading itself as a federal constitution.”