By Louis Ibah
Vicar General, Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, Rev. Msgr. John Aniagwu, has described the 1999 Constitution as irreparably flawed and called for its replacement.
He said he feared the worse could happen as security continues to degenerate in the country.
Aniagwu, who is Parish Priest, St. Leo’s Catholic Church, Ikeja, Lagos, in an interview with journalists at the weekend, accused the government of treating criticisms or counsels from Christian bodies, like the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) or Catholic Bishop Conference (CAN) with contempt.
He urged the Federal Government to desist from blackmailing Christian clerics speaking out against ongoing insecurity, economic hardship and bad governance saying as Nigerians church administrators are also feeling the anguish and pains of the people.
“They make it look as if we shouldn’t be involved in anything political but we are Nigerians and also feel the pains of the people. I tell you that 80 per cent of the people who come to my office on daily basis come for nothing but for assistance. And we have been assisting where the people cannot see the government. So, we can’t be ruled out of happenings in this country.”
While flaying the decision of the National Assembly to dissipate funds and time embarking on the review of the 1999 Constitution, the cleric said what was required was a new constitution that restructures the current governance structure of the country.
He said the executive and legislative arm of government should meet and take a look at the recommendations of the 2005 and 2014 constitutional conferences of presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan saying those two conferences contained sufficient recommendations by Nigerians on how to restructure the country.
“What we are doing now – with the Senate and House of Representatives – is an exercise in futility. The constitution that we have now is irreparably flawed and needs to be replaced with a new constitution that would be determined by Nigerians. It is not something to tinker with; it doesn’t need a review, but a replacement.
“We are a federation of nationalities and we need a constitution that addresses the needs of those nationalities. The people have to determine between a true federal system of government where power is devolved to the centre of states, or a regional government where the regions enjoy a lot of autonomy and contribute to the centre. The problem is with the constitution, we are not operating a federation. Restructuring is key to solving our problems. Until we restructure there will be agitations everywhere. We have to renegotiate our existence as a nation and agree on how we have to stay together.”
On insecurity, he said: “The violence seems to be increasing or spreading everyday as we read about agitation here and there. Initially the crisis was in the North East before moving to the North West, but today it has spread to all parts of the country. I fear that more violence can spill into a full blown civil war.”