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(From Vanguard (Nigeria) - AAGM)
Byline: Obi Nwakanma
THOSE Nigerians who have consistently called for a national constitutional conference to refine and redefine the conceptual basis for the federation of Nigeria do so because they understand that the alternative is the current chaos which characterises the polity. It is also not in doubt that Nigerians understand that federalism is an imperative, given the multi-ethnic character, as well as the historical realities of the modern Nigerian state. Its contemporary evolution, however, speaks to something different, for although Nigeria is nominally a federal state, a republic of equal and contiguous states, it is run as a unitary and feudal entity.
The current basis of the Nigerian state, the 1999 constitution, is in fact, an anti-democratic, and feudal document. Its prescription is of a powerful monarchical "president" who absorbs the powers of the federating units.These facts were made clear to the current president, and indeed formed the basis of the opposition by groups critical of the militarily designed transition program, leading to the elections of 1999, which used that document as the basis of a transfer of power to civil authority. On his ascension to the current presidency, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is on record to have said that the National Assembly will undertake a constitutional review to thrash the problematic areas that confine the Nigerian state to the military designs of that constitution. Nothing of the …