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At its recent meeting, The Patriots deliberated on the Review of the 1999 Constitution, which is an issue of great national importance and immediacy, and hereby make the following statement.
As it attempted,abortively, to do in 2006, the NationalAssembly has again embarked upon another constitutional amendment exercise pursuant to its power under section 9 of the 1999 Constitution.
We of The Patriots are of the view, for reasons explained hereunder, that such an exercise by the National Assembly does not, and cannot, meet the widely known aspirations of the Nigerian people for a democratic constitution ; that to say, a constitution adopted through the democratic process of a National Conference or a Constituent Assembly specially elected for the purpose and a Referendum, and which establishes a democratic form of government, i.e. a government elected by the people at periodic intervals of time on a universal adult suffrage.
More than the fact that it establishes a democratic form of government, it is the democratic process through which it is adopted that essentially defines the character of a constitution as a truly democratic one. In other words, unless it is adopted through such a democratic process as is mentioned above, a constitution is not truly democratic simply because it establishes a democratic form of government.
Democratisation rests therefore on a false and weak foundation if a democratic form of government is not in fact the choice of the people expressed through a National Conference or a Constituent Assembly specially elected for the purpose AND a Referendum. Nigeria is thus not a full democracy unless and until its 1999 Constitution, made for it by the military, is replaced by one adopted through a democratic process -a People's Constitution.
It may well be argued that the fact of a constitution having been adopted through a democratic process has only a symbolic significance, and that the democratic form of government established by the constitution is of far greater practical importance. The argument is entirely fallacious and misconceived. But even supposing it to be true, still symbols play a vital role in the life of a nation, especially a young, fledgling nation, like ours. In the words of the U.S. Supreme Court in a case in 1940 : "we live by symbols", describing the binding tie of cohesive sentiment embodied in them as "the ultimate foundation" of a nation.
Re-affirming the critical role of symbols in the life of a nation, the same Court observed in another case in 1943 :
"The use of an emblem or flag to symbolize some system, idea, institution, or personality, is a short cut from mind to mind. Causes and nations, political parties, lodges and ecclesiastical groups seek to knit the loyalty of their followers to a flag or banner, a colour or design.
The State announces rank, function, and authority through crowns and maces, uniforms and black robes; the Church speaks through the Cross, the Crucifix, the altar and shrine, and clerical raiment. Symbols …