Bakare Advises Buhari on New Constitution, National Reconciliation

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 By Shola Oyeyipo

President Muhammadu Buhari has been advised to leverage his good will among Nigerians to take far reaching decisions that would spur genuine national progress even in the face of global economic crisis.

Speaking yesterday on the topic: ‘Championing the Cause for a New Nigeria’, during a national broadcast marking the 27 years anniversary of his church, The Latter Rain Assembly, the running mate to President Buhari on the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) platform in 2011, Pastor Tunde Bakare, called for the creation of a ‘New Constitutional Order and a National Reconciliation Commission’.

“Now, all that is required to give Nigeria a national rebirth is the political will of a president who enjoys a great deal of respect from the Nigerian people, including those who do not support him. The president may exercise this political will by creating a novel institution,” Bakare implored.

According to the cleric, one of such areas that needs to be addressed is the 1999 Constitution, which he said lacks the capability to move Nigeria to the next level.

“Whoever holds the view that the current constitution is sufficient as the national norm fails to recognise the aberrations which the constitution itself represents, or the import of these aberrations on our national psyche or value system.

“Contrary to its claim that ‘we the people’ gave ourselves a constitution, the 1999 Constitution was designed without the participation of the Nigerian people,” he said, stressing that: “This non-inclusion of a people in a process by which they supposedly resolved to give themselves a constitution is unrivalled in the history of political falsehood, thereby laying the foundation for a culture of political fraudulence. It was also a lost opportunity for a pre-transition learning experience in democratisation.”

With reference to insider report by a former director at the presidency, Mr.  Eric Teniola, who revealed that the committee that produced the 1999 Constitution “visited just few states, stayed most of the time in Abuja, held public hearings just for a few days, compiled its report and submitted, doubting that the government of the day would even approve it,” Bakare described the constitution as “shoddily put together.”

Bakare therefore noted that due to the many breaches to which the 1999 Constitution has been subjected, constitutional conventions are already evolving in unconstitutional directions, urging that: “The sooner we channel this discontent constructively towards constitutional rebirth, the better for us. Ignoring it is risking a revolution.”

The clergyman said there was need for a “Presidential Commission for National Reconciliation, Reintegration and Restructuring comprising a team of highly respected national influencers of high moral standing and unquestionable integrity, and having bridge-building antecedents.”

He explained that when established, the commission should be mandated to work closely with stakeholders and power blocs as well as legislative houses to create a new national identity for the Nigerian people; promote forgiveness and reconciliation among contentious interest groups in Nigeria; foster the integration of the diverse sectional groups in Nigeria into true nationhood; facilitate the creation of an acceptable functional governmental structure for Nigeria and midwife a process of constitutional rebirth that will culminate in a referendum by which the people will adopt a new constitution.

He also advised that the report of the 2014 National Conference with its Nigerian Charter for National Reconciliation and Integration will provide a ready-made operational springboard for this team.

“In a three-dimensional strategic arrangement, this national rebirth process can go on seamlessly alongside socio-economic development championed by the economic team of this administration headed by the vice president as well as a national security and anti-corruption strategy spearheaded by the president.

“However, within the allowance provided by the current constitution until it is replaced, socioeconomic development and national security strategies will be channeled in line with the cutting-edge nation philosophy from which the new constitutional order will emerge.

“Very importantly, this process will also result in the adoption of a long-term constitutionally-backed national vision that will subsequently guarantee accurate succession as well as guide policy-making for many generations, irrespective of the party in power,” Bakare stated.

He said Nigeria is currently experiencing predicted socioeconomic and political quagmire, which requires a re-examination of the configuration of the nationhood and a re-assessment of the framework of state.

“The time has come, once again to ask ourselves whether our nation is appropriately configured to survive current and coming upheavals, let alone fulfilling her great destiny,” he added.

The cleric highlighted terror and violence which produce fear, internal displacement and exile; corruption which asphyxiates national development plans and policies; excessive consumption and the forceful commercialisation of our national patrimony by a few cronies of the powerful oligopolies; injustice and deviation from norms, disregard for boundaries, and lawlessness as some of the major problems that Nigerians must collaborate with President Buhari to confront.

“Except we cleanse the injustices in the land, there is no way the nation will progress, and there are so many of them. A nation where the people play lip service to the issue of the Chibok girls, there is no way the youths will believe in the nation,” he emphasised.