A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Ozekhome, has said that only a brand-new people-driven constitution can guarantee Nigeria’s progress.

Ozekhome spoke at a lecture with the theme: 2023 General Election: The Nigerian Project and the Media, during the 2022 Media Week of the Cross River State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Calabar, the state capital.

The frontline lawyer and keynote speaker at the event said Nigeria cannot continue to amend its constitution because continuous amendments would only give birth to a bad constitution.

“Whoever becomes Nigeria’s president in 2023 will fail abysmally, if he does not tackle the issue of restructuring through a brand-new people’s constitution, done by Nigerians themselves.

“This constitution must be subjected to them through a popular referendum and plebiscite. Without this, Nigeria will be going round on a journey without a destination,” he said.

Ozekhome noted that the nation needs a constitution that would make ethnic groups see themselves as Nigerians and not belonging to a contraption they could not relate with.

The constitution lawyer said Nigeria needs to return to the era when it had regional governments with their own constitutions standing side-by-side with the national constitution, which only prevailed on the regions whenever there was a clash in constitutional provisions.

He stressed that in the constitution of the 1960s, each region took 50 per cent proceeds of its production, gave 20 per cent to the Federal Government and shared 30 per cent among other regions.

“This system ensured huge developments, like the Cocoa House in the Western Region, Obudu Cattle Ranch in the Eastern Region.

“The Northern Nigeria Development Corporation (NNDC), in the Northern Region; Okpela Cement factory, in the Midwest Region, among others, were established and effectively run,” Ozekhome said.

Advising journalists to educate the masses on the need to get their Permanent Voter’s Cards (PVCs) and vote for leaders of their choice, the lawyer said the 2023 general election would be challenging but would not destroy Nigeria.

Alluding to a statement by the winner of June 1993 presidential election, the late Bashorun Moshood Abiola, Nigeria needs peace imbued with social justice, equity, good conscience, egalitarianism, and not the peace of the cemetery.

The chief host and Cross River State Governor Ben Ayade urged journalists to practise the profession with decorum, intellect and fear of God because their pens could destroy or build any society.

“As we approach 2023, the role of journalists is to make it clear that this nation is above our ethnic and religious sentiments,” he said.

Ayade added that the unity of Nigeria was not negotiable but it had to be negotiated on a balanced table on the basis of equity.

The event also witnessed the presentation of awards to the retired Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Mike Igini; National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Chairman, Brig.-Gen. Buba Marwa (retd.), and Ozekhome (SAN), among others.

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