Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the house of representatives, says the 1999 constitution is a product of a “hurried national compromise”.
Gbajabiamila said this on Tuesday during the zonal public hearing on the review of the 1999 constitution in Lagos.
The public hearings taking place across the six geopolitical zones are expected to end on Thursday.
He said the constitution falls below standards because it was put in place to “ensure that the military returned to the barracks”.
“A nation’s constitution is the foundation of its existence. It is supposed to set the terms of our nationhood and define who we are in a manner that reflects both our common truths and highest aspirations,” he said.
“Our constitution falls short of this standard because the 1999 Constitution is the product of a hurried national compromise that we entered into two decades ago in other to ensure that the military returned to the barracks and that we returned to democratic government.
“It was always the intention that we will one day as one people and one nation, return to amend this document so that it gives voice to the yearnings of the Nigerian people and sets out in clear details how we intend to achieve the shared ambitions of our nationhood. Providence has cast upon the 9th National Assembly the responsibility to write such a constitution for the Nigerian people.
The speaker said Nigeria needs a “near-perfect” constitution to correct the problems confronting the country.
“No nation in the world has a perfect constitution, but we need a near-perfect constitution in Nigeria and we can achieve that through substantive amendments that significantly alter the character of our nation,” he said.
“Therefore, the task before us now is to use this process of review and amendment to devise for ourselves a constitution that resolves the issues of identity and political structure, of human rights and the administration of government, resource control, national security and so much else, that have fractured our nation and hindered our progress and prosperity.
“Our job is to produce a constitution that turns the page on our past, yet heeds its many painful lessons. It is not an easy task, but it is a necessary and urgent one.
Gbajabiamila said the constitution review will offer the opportunity to “restructure our government to make it more effective”.
He added that it will also give the country a constitution that will “put an end to the debilitating conflicts that even now continue to tear our nation apart”.
“We will do what is necessary to achieve these outcomes because all of us in the House of Representatives recognise that this moment in our history is fraught with promise and peril, and the future of our country lies in our hands,” he said.
He asked participants to make meaningful contributions that will help achieve the best outcome.
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