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Tuesday 17th October 2017,
Hope for Nigeria

Why there is so much tension in Nigeria‎ – Itse Sagay

Itse Sagay

The Chairman of Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Itse Sagay, has said the tension in Nigeria is because the 1999 constitution assumed that every Nigerian had the same social and historical backgrounds.

He said with such assumption, the Constitution made the Federal Government very tight and very weak states.

He stated this while making a comparison between the 1963 and 1999 Constitutions, submitting that the latter was mistakenly drafted and foisted on Nigeria.

 

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According to the professor of law, his agitation for devolution of power was to see each region develop at its own pace.

The constitutional lawyer said: “I think the first point to make is that Nigeria, to use Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s words, is not a nation. It is geographical entity containing many nations and the difference between a Yoruba and Hausa man or Igbo man is not less than the difference between an English and French man or German.

“So, that was the spirit which the 1963 Constitution, you had the powerful regions and the federal level where concentration was on matters of common interest like foreign affairs, defence, currency, immigration and others; but the bulk of activities were transferred to the regions because they were closer to the people and the Constitution recognised that these regions contained people with different backgrounds, historically and otherwise.

 

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“So, the mistake of the 1999 Constitution, which was made by the military and not by the people is to assume that every Nigerian has the same social and historical backgrounds and so, there should be a very tight Federal Government and very weak states.

“The 1999 Constitution turns a blind eye to these major social and ethnic divergence in Nigeria forgetting that all the various states and ethnic groups were independent when the British came. This is what the 1999 Constitution has overlooked and that is why there is so much tension in the land because the federal government is regarded to be too powerful therefore putting us together in a sort of tight embrace.

“The various states and regions want more autonomy and freedom to operate in their own way, whilst operating in the centre to form a united Nigeria.

“You will recall that with the 1960 and 1963 constitution, each region kept 50 per cent of its natural resources, they contributed 20 per cent to the federal government and then, the remaining 30 per cent was shared by all the regions on the basis of need.

“So, this is what people are asking for. They are asking for increased political power, increased fiscal federalism whilst interacting with members of the same country in unity. That is why I think the 1999 constitution was mistakenly drafted and foisted on Nigeria; that is why there is so much tension.”

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