From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa

The President of the Ijaw National Congress, Prof. Benjamin Okaba, has picked holes in the argument of former President Olusegun Obasanjo using the 1999 constitution of Nigeria to buttress his claims that crude oil in the Niger Delta belonged to the country and not the people of the region.

According to Okaba, Obasanjo is relying on the 1999 Constitution which several groups have rejected for the fact that it was imposed on the country by the military

Okaba, who stated this on ‘The Morning Show’ programme of Arise Television on Thursday, said the unitary characteristics of the 1999 constitution which Obasanjo celebrates had become the major reason Nigeria was collapsing on all sides as the constitution remained a faulty foundation of the country.

 

“The Nigerian (1999) constitution, which OBJ is now relying on, is a product of unrepresentative drafting and, to a large extent, most of the provisions therein are military-driven. So the constitution is fraudulent, satanic and it has not served anybody any good.

 

“In fact, the 1999 constitution is a foundation for the collapsing of Nigeria; every fabric of Nigeria, the economy, educational system, infrastructure are all collapsing. Reforms will not serve the situation. We need overall restructuring, because OBJ talked about reforms believing that, that will help to bring normalcy to Nigeria.

 

“But we know that under a constitution that is faulty, not people-driven but hurriedly put together a few weeks before the ascendancy of OBJ to power (in 1999), cannot do us any good. So the various agitations across the country are clear evidence that for Nigeria to work, we must do away with this constitution and go back to the basics.

 

“And in a federation, resource ownership, fiscal federalism are paramount and every constitution that talks about federalism and does not recognise ownership of resources by the people is faulty.”

 

According to him, Section 140 of the 1963 constitution, which Obasanjo made reference to in his open letter of reply to that of Ijaw nation leader and elder statesman, Edwin Clark, gave 50 per cent of proceeds from mineral resources to regions in recognition of their ownership of the resources.

 

“So the 1999 constitution remains an albatross, a problem and is the reason why we are where we are today. And those who are fighting tirelessly to sustain the status quo are doing it for self-seeking purposes; to protect their hegemonic interest.

 

“It is high time we restructured and allowed people who feel dissatisfied with the current system to seek self-determination. If not, like we said earlier, if they make restructuring impossible, they make the re-bundling of Nigeria inevitable.”

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Source: news