Robert Clark, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, has urged the National Assembly to consider reviewing the provisions of Section 145 of the 1999 constitution to provide for a decisive action regarding the president’s state of health.
Speaking with Sunday politics crew, on Channels Television, Clark also recommended that Nigeria needs a new constitution and not an amendment of the current constitution.
He said the popular concern about President Buhari’s medical vacation currently is not only a product of the president’s absence, but also the effect of non-compliance with constitutional provisions, as well as a gap in the constitution.
According to the senior lawyer, “The funny thing about Nigeria is that we never learn from our previous mistakes. During the case of Yar’adua when he was so sick that he could not come back, instead of going to the constitution and seeing what it says, we started talking about the doctrine of necessity.
“That doctrine should only apply to a cabinet system, not to the presidential system; where everything has already been spelt out in the constitution”.
He also said though the constitution provides for the president to hand over power to the vice president, through a letter to the National Assembly, Section145 also stipulates that unless the president issues another letter to the contrary, no one can do anything about the office of the president, until he returns.
“That section 145 says that unless the president himself sends a contrary statement; you cannot do anything; that is the lacuna. Buhari can stay till the end of his tenure; nothing will happen,” Mr. Clark said.
The senior lawyer mentioned that it is high time proper consideration of that section by the National Assembly is carried out, adding that the current constitution needs a complete changed and not amended.
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“Amendments are only sponsored because it will help the senators’ parties, their regions or themselves. So you find out that many of these amendments are not necessary.
“What is necessary is that we all realise that the 1999 constitution was imposed on us and it is a rotten constitution. No amount of amendment will make it workable.
“The 1999 constitution is a rotten egg in Nigeria; it is a constitution that has allowed the public officers to enrich themselves. Whichever way it happens, we need to change the constitution, not to revive it,” he said.
The SAN, however, advocated for the re-introduction of the 1963 constitution, saying it is the best constitution the country has ever had.
“The 1963 constitution is the best constitution Nigeria has ever had. All what we are talking about today that needs amendment; they are all in that constitution.”
He emphasised the significance of a national confab in making a workable constitution for the country, but decried the process adopted by the previous administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan in creating the 2014 national dialogue.
“Jonathan created the confab without a legal framework for the implementation of the recommendations of the constitution,” he said.
The senior lawyer expressed the difficulty in creating a new constitution and alleged that the current public officials would be against the scrapping of the 1999 constitution.
He, however, expressed optimism about the president’s commitment towards national development and called on Mr. Buhari to “listen to the plight of the people” and create another confab that will result in the emergence of a new constitution.
“Let him listen to the people, let God direct him to act; the front burner in our national discuss is the talk about devolution, or restructuring. That is the front burner and nothing else.”
Meanwhile, The Senate and the House of Representatives last week considered 33 amendments to the Nigerian constitution. The approved amendments are to be submitted to the state houses of assembly.
Source: Naija News