Geoffrey Anyanwu, Enugu
The African Heritage Institution (Afri-Heritage), yesterday said it was working on ways to ensure constitutional reforms in Nigeria that would create social cohesion and integration.
Executive Director of the non-governmental socio-economic and political analytic and research-based institution, Prof. Ufo Okeke-Uzodike, who disclosed this yesterday in Enugu said the present 1999 Constitution was not bad as some people view it, but needed a rework for Nigerians to get the best out of it in terms of national transformation and integration.
Okeke-Uzodike who was briefing newsmen on the forthcoming Big Ideas Podium Conference with the theme, “Reworking the Nigerian Constitution for National Transformation and Integration” scheduled for August 12 in Enugu, stressed that the conclusion of the 1998-99 transition to civil rule programme had raised hopes of an immediate reduction or stoppage of conflicts plaguing the Nigerian federation.
He said, “Sadly, the country is still deeply tormented not only by threats of violence but also actual exposure to violent conflicts and their associated socio-economic decay and related challenges.
“Part of the problem may be traced to the 1999 Constitution, which has remained ineffective and largely unfit for the existing realities in Nigeria. This is not surprising given that it has never really been owned by substantial sections of Nigerian communities and citizenry.
“There is also the reality that there are several provisions on critical issues — such as sociopolitical inclusion and good governance — that have remained sources of major conflicts plaguing the country.”
He noted specifically, that Nigeria’s political leaders had failed over the years to develop an acceptable framework for addressing critical conflicting national issues.
“These unresolved critical national issues include: citizenship, fiscal federalism, and regional autonomy; the division of responsibility between the federal and state governments; and the separation of powers between the executive branch and the legislative and judicial branches.”
On the forthcoming conference, Okeke-Uzodike said the `Big Ideas Podium conference’ was a national platform designed for public policy debates on emerging and developmental issues that inform policy reforms and good governance.