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Fapohunda’s Constitution Reform Kite.

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Fapohunda’s Constitution Reform Kite.

 

By Bolaji O. Akinyemi.

A plumage inspired tethered lightly built piece, made with paper or cellophane for adolescents’ and young teenagers’ fun catching is what a kite is.
So, when a colourful kite was sighted on the political horizon of the nation, the excitement was understandable, so much so, because the people had gazed into the horizon in hope of a new light upon the nation through which all can find direction and walk into freedom! Fapohunda’s kite did the job of attention calling to an issue of utmost importance to the existential reality of the contraption called Nigeria. Fapohunda’s position and proposition make a lot of sense but without capacity to lay to rest the subjugation of the constitution by the vagabond spirit of military decrees to respect democracy as a government of “We the People”.
Beyond knowledge is wisdom. Moving Nigeria forward is not a decision that should be informed by the knowledge and perspective of ONE MAN, occupying not more than 0.19 square meters. In a nation of 923,769 square kilometers! Infinite, you will agree with me is the opinion of one person at deciding the fate of such huge a space like ours! Fapohunda is from the Ijesa ethnic group, in a nation of over 400 ethnic nationalities, without reference to communication with his representatives at the House of Representatives or his Senatorial district Legislature, Distinguished Senator Ade Fadahunsi.
Prejudice aside, our views must be holistic, enabled by ground gazes of different perspectives without ignoring views taken from the height of time to gaze at history, and critically examine the path we have traveled. Keeping to mind details of history that has brought us to where we are.
I need to be clear about what informed my ideological alignment on restructuring with the groups and persons on the route back to the CFRN 1963. I have no desire to see my tribe or any other, have advantage in this project. A nation with strength to drown tribal bigotry and render it unattractive alone I desire to see. I have read quite a number of opinions on the review of the CFRN. Many, unfortunately are tainted with tribal jingoism. The trending one is written in reaction to Fapohunda, by Prof Obasi Igwe, titled; “Yoruba” or “Eminent Elders” Proposal. It is an expression of suspicion fanned by Fapohunda’s content and body language. According to Prof Igwe, “the Igbo and many other Easterners once again appreciate the distinguished President Bola Ahmed Tinubu”, meaning the people he sought to represent have no issues with BAT on the need to review the constitution. In fairness, Prof Igwe raised very germane issues but we must be called to order that the 1963 constitution envisaged most of our challenges and dealt with them appropriately but for the coup and suspension of the 1963 constitution we are where we are! However, whatever is left out in the 1963 construction, I believe the confab of 2014 tidied up!
Our need is a system of government that is based on “We the People”. The CFRN 1963 was created by “We the People” from the severance meeting in Lagos on 25-26 July of 1963. It mandated the parliament that was in place to enact the constitution of 1963 with effect from 1st October 1963; that action began the real self-rule in Nigeria. Before then the colonial administration operated between 1st January 1900 and 30th September 1963. When the military struck on 15th January 1966, they suspended the constitution of “we the people” by decree number 1, and, also birthed the unitary federal structure with a decree, number 34! These decrees are the bones of contention, they are still in existence today. The handover in 1979 deepened our burden with decrees by creating another decree number 104 by which the military handover to Alh. Shagari civilian administration was legitimised.
Shagari ruled by decree number 104 of 1979 and not by any constitutional document, not by any doctrine that calls a document, constitution. Decree number 24 of 1999 is another one that further complicated the entanglement of democracy with military rules which produced the hybrid system of “militocracy” that is ruining our country till date. The impact of decree number 24 is even worse because its attachment is a “schedule” that is now popularly referred to as the constitution of Nigeria, 1999!
Considering the yearning of Nigerians for a government that is inertly civil, and the general preference for restructuring, power devolution, resource control and true federalism, all we need to do is restore the 1963 constitution that lasted for only two years, three months and 14 days! from 1st October 1963 to 14 January 1966. For this restoration to occur, the existing parliament will need to repeal the four decrees that currently constitute the albatross to democratic system: Decree number 1 of 1966, Decree number 34 of 1966, Decree number 104 of 1979 and Decree number 24 of 1999. These 4 Decrees are the yokes and burdens upon the shoulder of democracy and republican rule in Nigeria. A repeal of the identified four decrees will conterminously pave the way for the lifting of the suspension on the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1963 back to life! and, ready for amendment with vital inputs such as 2014 Confab Report et al. We can then leverage on the transition provisions in chapter 11 of the 1963 republican constitution to amend it to reflect contemporary realities in the polity!
Our existing realities and how to manage them include; Number one, the military has already restructured the federation into 36 states, which we can now retain as they are, or temper with, based on the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference. The nomenclature of the federating units is inconsequential; whatever name we give to it is what it will bear, State, Region or Province, the decision is up to us. We can go further with a structure of uniform number of littoral states per existing six notional geopolitical zones; let each zone consist of 7 states, because currently NorthWest has seven states, South East has five states, other ones have 6 states each. For instance, it could be “seven” states per zone, so the Nigeria federation will be governed by the 1963 constitution with 42 states (regions or provinces, whatever name we agree on). It will give us a structure of 42 states and a central government, making it a two-tier federation no more while local government will be the internal structure within each state, region or province as the case may be, to manage the affairs of the people within each state structure!
The two-tier federation government will mimic the American fiscal federal system, each with its laws, etc. The central government will have its own law, so also the states (or is it regions, provinces) with their own laws, so that power devolution would’ve been dealt with, this will give rise to a federation indeed. Power devolution could be deepened by having the central government operate a rotational presidency for either a single term of a specified duration or retain the existing two terms as is.
The fiscal federal system of America permits resource control. For instance, a citizen can find crude oil in his backyard and own it as his personal assets! All that is required is for the citizen to pay tax to government based on exacting requisite fiscal and legal regulatory framework in place. Similarly, the second-tier federating unit would make remissions to the central government. So, resource control will be fully in place, for example; a farmer who owns a piece of land may till it for maize, and the other tills his for Irish potato. Yet, both farmers will take their farm produces to the market to sell and pay tax on their earnings. That is simply what resource control is!
“Let me bring to light the strange practice in Nigeria that nobody wants to talk about”! That was the remark of Da Jonathan Sunday Akuns, Patron of Apostolic Round Table Panelists and one voice of reasoning out of the many Patriots whose thoughts enriched mine. He went further;
“I was holding onto it for discussion at the national assembly but I can reveal it to you because you’ve written a lot about the subject matter and people are taking you up requiring the need for you to explain further; number one, when a civilian administration is in place they say all major decrees have been converted to Acts of the parliament. Funny enough in that blanket statement they are saying decree number one of 1966 that suspended the constitution is now an act of parliament. So, an Act of that suspended the CFRN is lend credence by the Parliament that needs the same CFRN as its reason d’entre? What a surprise! A democratic aberration! Accepted!! Whereas, it should have been that with an Act of the Parliament the suspension of the constitution can be lifted in keeping with tenets of democracy.
Number two, decree number 34 abrogated devolved federal power that existed in two tiers of government into a single unitary system. The parliament is saying they are retaining unification of power, is this in tandem with democracy? Number three, decree number 104 of 1979 that handed over power to a civilian administration, the current parliament is saying yes, the tenure of the 1979 civilian administration was ran based on decree 104. Yet, the 1979 era administration is said to be a republic; but the legal foundation of the handover is decree 104 and not what is called CFRN 1979.
Finally, decree number 24 of 1999 is the compelling legal basis upon which the military handed over power to civilian administration; is the parliament that ensued from the handover exercise saying it is running on decree number 24 because it’s now an Act of the parliament? Is this not a surprise to democrats? But nobody has raised this beyond our consuming passion, legitimately though, to return to civil rule devoid of the enabling cryptic foundations. Let me take the liberty to say even Fapohunda, with all his knowledge and access did not see this matter at all. What we are running in Nigeria are strange tenets of Democratic practice that is completely out of any book, nay, akin to selling a pie in the sky to earthly folks. It is not supported by any scientific political theory nor evidence.
The overall big picture about democracy and republican rule in Nigeria will be thus, a chance to reconnect to 1963 republican CFRN and amend it with current realities to deliver a democratic spectrum cum outlook that, in one fell swoop, converts the essential elements of all the gamut of military decrees in governance of Nigeria into the Acts of the Nigerian parliament akin to how the enactment of the 1963 CFRN discarded the vestiges of colonialism in Nigeria. This will also normalise the received cryptic arguments that seek to link the 1979 cum 1999 civilian administrations to the 1st republic government by the prefix or appellations of 2nd republic et al.
That is why the 1963 constitution needs the requirement of the Parliament to make its amendment and continue with democracy and republican rule; now, when that is done, our self-determination preferences will come to the fore under a democratic atmosphere that is devoid of the ongoing spate of internecine arms struggle. The 1963 republican constitution, upon its civil amendment process by parliament will provide the springboard for non-violent cum non-chaotic pursuit of self-determination in Nigeria in line with best practices such as those of “glasnost and perestroika” of USSR and “velvet divorce” of erstwhile Czechoslovakia of the 1990s era or the asymmetric version of the governance framework of the European Union.

The self-determination clause will be the focus of my follow up article.
For now, Nigeria is on auto pilot; a country without a constitution as of today but operates on a pandora box of four military decrees of 1966, 1979 and 1999. If you ever hear of a state in a state of emergency, the name of that state is Nigeria. Nothing is working and nothing will! We need a cost-effective quick fix. And the position of the Apostolic Round Table which I represent as the Convener and of course the Indigenous Group for Restructuring, IGR, a project of PVC-Naija. Beyond ART and IGR which are my immediate constituencies are positions of proven patriotic groups whose thoughts aligned with ours. By this, I want to give credit to the National Christian Elders Forum, a group that noiselessly continue to labour in prayers and intellectual discourses over the birth of a new nation that works for all; Movement for National Reformation (MNR) with such a rich assembly of Intellectuals, Technocrats and Academia with high sense of patriotism; Da Jonathan Sunday Akuns and to reach out to several patriotic fellow citizens for collaboration for a new CFRN by reconnection to 1963 republican constitution.
There is no better way to celebrate the life and times of Chief Anthony Enahoro (Founder and pioneer Chairman of MNR than to make truly free, the nation for which he moved the motion for Independence, and there is no better date than the 25 and 26 of July 2024, when we show our resolves to see the suspension of the 1963 constitution lifted. This is not the time for any part of Nigeria to seek its own, but to guide it as contained in the 1963 constitution while making amendments and adding the thoughts of 2014 Confab including other sundry views on the need for a truly democratic and republican self-rule in Nigeria for a nation that works for all.
I would like to extend a hand of fellowship to other groups whose interest is to see a nation truly functional through her federating units. The Patriots led by His Excellency, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Afenifere, Oodua People’s Congress, Arewa Consultative Forum, Ohaneze Ndigbo and sundry groups in Niger Delta, Middle Belt et al. The beautiful 2024 Democracy Day public commentary of the President-General of Okpe National Union comes to mind. Nigeria belongs to all of us, we can help this giant rise and take her journey to the high hills of the earth amongst the comity of nations.
As I said before, I say again, “We the People” is the DNA from which the Constitution can receive life. Let’s make it our priority and business to give life to a new and living Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by a reset that lifts the suspension on 1963 republican constitution for amendment with current realities.
The Indigenous Groups for Restructuring (IGR) is prepared to run the errand for all on this important milestone. May I on their behalf in my capacity as the BOT Chairman of Project Victory Call Initiative, PVC Naija request for a Peoples Parliament to be tagged; “WE THE PEOPLE” to be scheduled for the 25 and 26th of July 2024. The focus of the meeting of the Peoples Parliament is to rework Fapohunda’s draft, the MNR documents and other opinions documented into an acceptable document that will represent the yearning of all and thereafter present it to the National Assembly as “We the People”. May posterity count us faithful!
The proposed Peoples Parliament will free the Politicians from a tedious constitutional process but will increase their legacy footprints in the governance scheme of things in Federal Republic of Nigeria. If we need to fix Nigeria like the day before yesterday and get it up and running like yesterday to create a better day, the support for the 1963 constitution is the way to go! It doesn’t matter who will take the glory. This invitation does not exclude Dr Akin Fapohunda. He should be magnanimous to lead us to his friend President Bola Tinubu to deliver the Document to be so generated. In the alternative, we collectively head for the Villa to see our President. For me and many other patriotic Nigerians, the reward for our labour is nothing more than a better and greater Nigeria, where no one is oppressed as President Tinubu desired, for which he returned the old anthem. There is no point singing the republican anthem of the 1960’s to what is called the 1999 constitution. On the 1963 republican constitution we stand! so help us God.

Dr. Bolaji O. Akinyemi is an Apostle and Nation Builder. He’s also President Voice of His Word Ministries and Convener Apostolic Round Table. BoT Chairman, Project Victory Call Initiative, AKA PVC Naija. He is a strategic Communicator and the C.E.O, Masterbuilder Communications.

Email:bolajiakinyemi66@gmail.com
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