Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Afe Babalola, has again called for a total overhaul of the 1999 constitution.
Speaking in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti capital on Wednesday, January 4, Babalola said any election conducted under the 1999 constitution will only bring back the same people that have brought Nigeria to its current status.
“Unless a new constitution similar to those of 1960 and 1963 constitutions, with necessary amendments, is put in place, none of the aspirants, and indeed no angel can save Nigeria from total collapse.
“On April 18, 2022, I urged the federal government to suspend the 2023 general election, and to raise an interim government of six months that will fashion out a new constitution for the country.
“I still stand by my suggestion that any election conducted under the 1999 constitution cannot, and will not, produce new leaders with new ideas.
“Any election conducted under the 1999 constitution will merely result in recycling the same people who brought Nigeria to grinding poverty, mass unemployment, underfunded education, insecurity, and huge external debt.”
Babalola added that “a moneybag”, and not the best-qualified candidate, can win the presidential election under the present constitutional arrangement.
“I am an elder statesman, a SAN, the highest taxpayer in old Ondo state, the highest taxpayer in present Ekiti, owner of the best private university in Nigeria, and many more.
“If I contest for political office today, I will fail, not because I am not qualified, but because the system will make me not to win.
“I have no sympathy for any Nigerian aspiring to rule Nigeria in any form, whether as a legislator, governor, or president.
“The fact remains that the 1999 constitution, on a large scale, is the root cause of economic, social, political, and religious problems in the country today.
“Our experience since 1999 has taught us that we are in urgent need of a new constitution. The new constitution should provide for stringent conditions in respect of age, academic qualifications, character, personality, as well as family background of candidates, especially for the presidency and the national assembly.”
Babalola also said that any Nigerian aspiring to lead the country ought to be worried about the country’s debt profile, and called for urgent measures to address the situation.
“In addition, the government should emulate Obasanjo’s example by approaching the country’s creditors, either for total debt forgiveness or for substantial reduction of the debt.”