The Senate has called for Nigerians to express their views and opinions about the 1999 constitution. The review of the 1999 constitution has been an arising matter for a long time. There have been many criticisms of the deficits in it. Many complained that it started when it was foisted on us by the military. The Senate appealed to Nigerians to voice out the defects in the 1999 constitution in an announcement during its plenary activities. The zonal public hearing, two-day activities will commence next week. It will take place in two centres in each of the six geopolitical regions in the country.

A crucial aspect of reviewing the 1999 constitution is how it helps to accommodate our unity and diversity. We can assess this by studying the role of Nigerians in the 1999 constitution’s review and transparency. The 1999 constitution has been rendered many times as a fraud. There have been critics and reviews by erudite law practitioners. The critics of the creation process showed a lack of acceptance. For instance, Chief Rotimi Williams SAN, a foremost Constitutional lawyer described the 1999 Constitution as “a document that tells lies against itself”. A constitution with no transparency will wield no power. If there is no transparency, the Nigerian legal system will not function effectively. An operational legal system is a top priority because it will help foster contractual agreement and unity among the diversity in Nigeria.

We all know that the country is facing problems due to the fraudulent activities of top political officeholders. It shows that Nigerians are not aware of the laws holding these offices. The present situation of fraudulence can testify that there is no transparency in the 1999 Constitution. The fraudulent acts have led people to grow apathy for making amendments to the 1999 Constitution.

I believe there are solutions to these problems if we tackle them as supposed. In the two-day review process, Nigerians should point out the defects of the 1999 Constitution on transparency, misconduct, and its weakness to exercise power as supposed. The review process should be open to everyone, and even the Nigerians in the diaspora should be able to participate and observe the process this will lead to a more transparent constitution. There should be watchdogs and independent organizations who could observe and scrutinize the process, providing feedback to the national assembly and other organizations.

The National Assembly is seeking an amendment that will make the auditory channel directly audit federal parastatals like NNPC. The problem so far is there is no team for that. This has to be dealt with by the legislature. Also, the immunity of governor’s from prosecution should be limited as there is no one or organization above the law. I believe immunity is a milder problem because immunity is only for governors and not political leaders. I agree that immunity is to be limited to civil affairs. However, there also has to be an independent body that will tackle the misconduct on crimes; EFFC was brought about to bring this effect but it is not independent. Either the EFCC has the power and authority to address criminal issues or an anti-crime body that is independent should be established

In conclusion, the review of the amendment bills to be transparent and accountable is important. An open and transparent process would help in getting a better review of the 1999 constitution. We should participate in all forms of review activities to produce a transparent review. We should express our opinion for the need for transparency in the two days hearing conducted by the Senate.

Shamsudeen Akano
Preclinical Press