The delegates say the 1999 Constitution was made by the military to foist underdevelopment and crisis on the country.
Many delegates at the on-going National Conference on Wednesday blamed most of Nigeria’s problem on the 1999 Constitution and called for the re-introduction of the 1963 Republican Constitution.
The delegates insisted that the 1999 Constitution was deliberately made by the military to foist underdevelopment and crisis on the country.
A South-South delegate, Ray Ekpu, said under the 1999 Constitution, Nigeria has been tottering from one problem to the other, adding that there is a need to revisit the basis through which the nation attained its Independence.
Mr. Ekpu, a former Editor in-Chief of Newswatch magazine, said that a situation where the Federal Government has 92 items to legislate upon under the 1999 Constitution is wieldy and unacceptable.
He said, “The Federal Government wants to provide water to my village and yet does not know my village. That is why we have a bubbling pure water industry.
“They said they want to provide electricity and yet every Nigerian buys diesel and petrol to power their generators. Those who cannot afford the big generator have what has come be known as ‘I pass my neighbour.’
“I have not seen a country that grows and engages in productive activities that is powered by generators. We have been tottering during the past years. The constitution we have was deliberately made to under develop the country.
Apparently referring to the threat to join the Cameroon by the Lamido of Adamawa, Mr. Ekpu said the delegates should look for solutions to the nation’s problems and stop thinking of moving to other countries.
He said, “We don’t want to go to Cameroon. We went to Cameroon before and we got stuck somewhere. We have agreed that this house will not fall. It has weathered storms over the years and that is why the President has asked us to do a refurbishment to make it stand.”
A representative of Muslim leaders, Obini Ekpe, said there is a need for Nigerians to imbibe the spirit of tolerance and to respect the rights of one another.
Mr. Ekpe, a professor of Physics in Ebonyi State University, argued that the rights of Moslems in some of the states in the South were being undermined by the government and called for changes.
He said, “I am an Igbo man. Anything that makes an Igbo man cry makes me cry. I am also a Muslim and anything that makes a Muslim cry makes me cry. We are grossly marginalised…We want to be recognised and given our due rights under the law.”
Edet Antai, representative of retired civil servants, said the Conference should be guided in its decisions by historical events in the country.
He said, “A century-old country needs structural repair in order to make political inclusiveness possible through the creation of more political space. We must use this opportunity to create more spaces to allow people to be involved in the governance.
“Federalism died with the events of 1966 when some ‘patriotic’ Nigerians set aside the Constitution that formed the basis of our nationhood. We have to go back to that Constitution.
“Mr. President has done a worthy honour to this country and to himself and we believe that at the end of the day, we will work to create the necessary changes for the good of our country.”