Nigeria has to develop a people’s constitution to rise above its present challenges, the Director, Institute of Global Cultural Studies, Binghamton University, New York, Prof. Ali Mazrui, has said.
Speaking at the eighth Aelex Annual Lecture in Lagos on the theme: “This house must not fall: Constitutional reform and the people’s will”, the scholar said Nigeria must allow the people to participate in the development of a constitution.
Among those present were retired Justice of the Supreme Court Kayode Eso, veteran journalist Haroun Adamu, renowned economist Ayo Teriba, rights’ activist Ms. Annkio Briggs and Chairman, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Lagos, Taiwo-Taiwo.
Mazrui advised Nigeria to look at previous constitutions and reconsider why the country has failed despite its enormous resources.
He said Nigeria should address the discrimination between men and women and the divisions along geographical, religious and ethnic groups.
“It is important to accept that ethnicity is entrenched in the country’s politics.”
He said the country has a lot of work to do and it should start immediately.
Mazrui said corruption has bedevilled the country so much that it has produced money-makers rather than wealth-creators.
“The Nigerian plutocratic elite in the first few decades of independence has been money making rather than a wealth creating elite.
“Individual Nigerians have become wealthy while the country has become poorer.
“We have had urbanisation in Nigeria without adequate industrialisation.
“Western consumption patterns without western productive techniques.
“We need to find ways of motivating Nigerians towards genuine entrepreneurial, innovative and risk-taking developmental strategies,” Mazrui said.
The professor called on the nation to consider an ombudsman system on corruption control both at the federal and state level.
Justice Eso said the only way to save Nigeria from collapsing is to have a constitution that is accepted by the people.
“We need true federalism. A constitution without the will of the people is no constitution.”
For Briggs, the British is responsible for all the problems we face as a nation.
She called on the National Assembly to allow a referendum, where the 250 ethnic groups will be represented to discuss issues affecting them and develop a constitution.