* Says #EndSARS protests a wake-up call
Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
A former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), has declared only a brand new constitution could address myriad of challenges bedeviling Nigeria and not an amendment of the operational 1999 Constitution.
The senior lawyer argued that the EndSARS protests, which nearly engulfed the nation was a microcosm of the danger that would consume the country, if the country is not restructured.
Olanipekun lamented that the 1999 legal framework is not adequate to handle Nigeria’s peculiarities, saying what the country needs was a people-oriented constitution that would recognise its diversity, stressing that the present one was foisted on Nigerians by the military juntas.
He spoke in Ikere-Ekiti, Ekiti State, yesterday during presentation of scholarship awards to 143 students and launching of the Wole Olanipekun Foundation to empower youths and the less-privileged in Ekiti.
The 1999 Constitution, according to him, breeds corrupt practices and impunity in governance, and should be dumped for a more robust one that will suit the uniqueness of the country.
“The news is everywhere and the propaganda has gone haywire that the National Assembly is amending the constitution, as if what the constitution needs is an amendment rather than a total overhaul starting from the preamble to the definition schedule.
“All arms of government and government structures have to be redefined, resituated and re-strategised for a new Nigeria, which will bring about unity and faith, peace and progress.”
Olanipekun said the #EndSARS protests, which nearly engulfed the nation, was a microcosm of the dangers that would consume the nation, if Nigeria is not restructured.
He expressed regret over the two police stations razed in his Ikere-Ekiti country home during the crisis, putting policing system in jeopardy due to tactical withdrawal of the police from the community.
Olanipekun said: “Whatever might have been the outcome of EndSARS protest, the bitter take away there is that we must honestly, sincerely, passionately, unpretentiously take step to reawaken and rehabilitate Nigeria.
“The bitterness among ethnic nationalities is so deep, and we need genuine reconciliation and restructuring of the polity. That small sore has become cancerous and we need a radical surgery to extract it.”
The legal luminary disclosed that 143 students with 67 at the secondary school class, 73 undergraduates, three law school students and a PhD candidate, would benefit from the 2020 edition of his scholarship scheme.
Olanipekun added that the just officially launched foundation will kick off with empowerment of 100 youth and 100 widows and aged that would benefit between N50,000 and N30,000 each to establish small scale businesses, to reduce poverty in Ekiti .
“Under the Wole Olanipekun Foundation Youth Empowerment Programme, while 100 youths will have a grant of N50,000 each in 2020, another set of 100 youths will be entitled to same amount in 2021 and 2022 translating to 300 youth, while each of them will be entitled to non-interest yielding loans from the middle of 2021.
“For the widows and the aged people from 75 years of age, 100 of them will be empowered with N30, 000 each under my foundation as party of poverty alleviation programme”.