Sagay: 1963 Constitution should be adopted


The Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Professor Itse Sagay, has called for the adoption of the 1963 Constitution, to address agitations in some parts of the country.

Sagay, who made the remark during an interview on Channels Television, said the 1999 Constitution, which has attracted a lot of criticisms in recent times, should be scrapped and replaced with the 1963 Constitution because it is capable of inspiring the confidence of many Nigerians about the future of the country.

The highly-respected scholar said everything that is missing in the 1999 Constitution and which is being clamoured for is in the 1963 Constitution. He said the 1999 Constitution is a unitary constitution masquerading as a federal constitution.

His words: “My own personal preference is that we should scrap this constitution (referring to the 1999 constitution) and adopt the 1963 constitution that can contain everything that is being agitated for now.

“We adopt it, 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.”

Sagay also recounted how the regional government controlled all aspects of his life while in secondary school. He said: “When I was in secondary school, I knew nothing about the Federal Government, I only knew about Ibadan and Awolowo. The region controlled my life from A to Z.

READ ALSO: HAPPENING NOW: 1999 Constitution Review Public Hearing, Enugu

“I knew nothing about the Federal Government. Everything worked perfectly, beautifully and happily. So, that is what we are missing. The regions competed. Nigeria developed fast. The regions kept what they produced, sent 20 per cent to the federal level, and then 30 per cent to a distributable level, which was then distributed to the regions, according to their needs.

“Everybody was happy. We just have to go back to that. Otherwise, Nigerians will not enjoy stability.”

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.”

He also called for the implementation of the APC restructuring report, which had been abandoned by the party for inexplicable reasons.

The National Assembly is currently embarking on a nationwide public hearing, to give Nigerians an opportunity to make inputs in the current bid to amend 1999 constitution.

Under 1963 Republican Constitution, Nigeria had four regions — East, North, West, and Mid-West — with independent structures that reflected its peculiarities.

In recent times, there have been calls for restructuring and return to the regional system of government.

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