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How Tinubu, Akande, Osoba missed opportunity to rewrite 1999 constitution – Adebanjo

 

Afenifere chieftain, Pa Ayo Adebanjo said President Bola
Tinubu and his South-West counterpart governors missed the opportunity to
rewrite the nation’s constitution when Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999.

 

Adebanjo stated this in an interview on Channels Television
on Friday.

 

According to him, the former governors failed Nigerians
because they were too frightened to insist on a people’s constitution when they
had the opportunity.

 

Recall that Tinubu served as the Lagos State governor from
May 1999 to May 2007.

 

Adebanjo noted that Tinubu was among the six governors of
the South-West who “chickened out” from demanding a Sovereign National
Conference after the then military Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar, decided
to return the country to democracy after the death of ex-military dictator Sani
Abacha.

 

Adebanjo, however, said Tinubu now has the opportunity to
rewrite the 1999 Constitution now that he is in office as Nigeria’s President.

 

The elder statesman said Tinubu now has an opportunity to
rewrite the mistakes of the past by ensuring that Nigerians decide on a
constitution they agree to govern their co-existence.

 

He said Nigerians deserve a better constitution, as against
what he described as the “military-imposed constitution” still operational in
the country since 24 years ago.

 

Adebanjo noted that a brand-new people’s constitution will
end the menace of insecurity, adding that a people’s constitution will make
room for state police.

 

He said, “There was a clamour for a Sovereign National
Conference at that time (in the buildup to the 1999 election). The military
said they were going back to the barracks and we said, ‘Well, go back to the
barracks with your constitution; it’s your baggage and return us to where you
met us.

 

 “If you are not going
to do that, schedule another conference and we will agree on how to live
together’.”

 

He said the Yoruba socio-political group Afenifere refused
to take part in any deliberations with the Abdulsalami Abubakar regime but
later agreed to take part in the 1999 election after getting assurances that
there will be a Sovereign National Conference thereafter.

 

Adebanjo said, “So, we contested that election on protest.
This is why I disagreed with Ex-Governors (Bisi) Akande and (Segun) Osoba. When
we were campaigning for them to be governors, it was on the heels of
federalism, and Sovereign National Conference.

 

“We insisted that the constitution must be changed. So, when
we (Alliance for Democracy) came in, we got the mandate of the people; we won
the election in the whole of the Western Region;

 

“…We told all our governors including Bola Tinubu not to go
to Abuja until the Federal Government changed the constitution but they
chickened out; they were involved in the paraphernalia of office… that is the
beginning of the struggle of Nigeria.”

 

Adebanjo said all the six state assemblies in the South-West
at that time passed a resolution for a Sovereign National Conference but “all
our governors disappointed us.”

 

He said, “If the Western Region didn’t take part in any of
the activities in Abuja, the Eastern Region will follow us and we will all be
forced to come back to the table again.

 

“They (South-West governors) chickened out, they sold the
Nigerian people, they disappointed us. And that is why I said the wrong at that
time, Bola Tinubu is in a position to rewrite it now by changing the
constitution now to what we wanted it to be.

 

“And it is not a long thing to do; take the 2014 National
Conference Report, take the (ex-Governor Nasir) El-Rufai Constitution
Recommendation of the APC, set up a committee to reconcile the recommendations
and we will move on.”

 

“We are now talking of insecurity, kidnapping, how can
insecurity be solved when those fighting it are in Abuja? It is not possible.
All the governors have been clamouring for state police, for the policing
system to be localised…When security is localised, they will take care of their
people.

 

“We copied our federalism from Britain and the United States
but have you heard of the Inspector General of Police in America? All you have
is the Cosmopolitan Police.”

 

On claim that the governors would abuse state police,
Adebanjo said, “The constitution says that governors are chief security
officers of their states but you deprive them of the role.”

 

Adebanjo said Nigerians are tired of empty promises and
reassurances, adding that “We are tired, we want double action. Until we go
back to agree on conditions for us to live together, we will never get peace.”

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