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  As a sequel from the first edition, this piece pays attention to constitutional restructuring. Knowing that the 1999 Constitution is not perfect, putting in place the necessary structure for either a referendum or a simpler constitutional review process via the National Assembly will suffice for now.
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Toeing the path of constitutional reforms or amendments will entail deliberations concerning either the First Schedule or the Second Schedule of the constitution. The First Schedule of the Constitution defines the structure and composition of the federation as one consisting of the states of the federation, the local government areas, as well as the Federal Capital Territory. Amending the First schedule of the Nigerian Constitution will entail either reducing the number of states in the country and collapsing them into regions or increase the number into more sub-ethnic groups. The conditions that make one a Nigerian citizen has to be redefined. If we have decided to change the notion that Nigeria is merely a geographical expression to one that accommodates the diverse ethnic groups in the country, a new principle has to replace the provincial-territorial structure which has dragged down national cohesion for decades. We will also have to decide whether local governments should remain under federal jurisdiction or it should be addressed by the federating units of the country where they are governed by their own customary laws. For the Second Schedule of the Constitution, there is a need to review the very long list of 68 Exclusive Legislative areas in which the Federal Government only has jurisdiction over its determination.
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While the Federal Government has exclusive competence in these 68 legislative areas, there is no exclusive list that defines or allocates the areas in which the State Governments alone have exclusive powers, as is often the case in federations. If state roads and assets really do exist, why can’t states fix federal trunk roads passing through the state? Why can’t states join or dissolve statutory marriages, arbitrate industrial disputes, or have their own police forces? Matters such as the above will have to be reviewed in a more open manner and a consensus of the people reached concerning them. In testing the strength of True Federalism on the Second Schedule of the Nigerian Constitution, Article 52 gives the Federal Government exclusive powers to conduct “public relations of the Federation.” With this, the role of the states which comprise the federation has been already nullified from the onset. In talking about the State of the Nigerian union, we can blame Lord Lugard for joining together the 3 protectorates to form Nigeria, but any representation of the union which excludes the participation of either the regions or states should be a nullity. Calls by the ordinary citizen and important personalities for restructuring is definitely putting due pressure on politicians who have the power to move the pin. Other politicians are only making such noise on restructuring to garner ethnic sentiment or political clout before the 2023 general elections. Forging a proper channel of reforming the constitution through the willpower of the democratic handful of legislators of the incumbent National Assembly is all we may have to do for now. And we do not have to throw away the entire 1999 constitution yet, we have come a long way in this nascent democracy and we can progress faster by slowly crafting a more inclusive constitution drawn out of the failing 1999 constitution. Source: Premium Times
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This article was first published on 30th March 2021


Macaddy is mostly a farmer in the day who also dabbles into technology at night, in search of other cutting edge intersections. He's on Twitter @i_fix_you

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