As political gladiators brace up for the 2023 General Election, Elder statesman, Aare Afe Babalola has expressed fresh fears over the future of Nigeria, warning that the country may not survive under the 1999 Constitution.
The senior lawyer decried worsening security and economic situations in Nigeria, calling for a more practical approach in reversing the ugly trends.
Addressing journalists on Monday on state of the nation, the founder Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD) warned that, it would be dangerous to hold another elections in 2023 without having what he termed ‘People’s Constitution”
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) lamented that the 1999 Constitution which was allegedly foisted on Nigerians had done more harm to the socioeconomic wellbeing of the country than good.
Afe Babalola argued that as a major stakeholder in the Nigerian project he cannot sit back and allow things to degenerate further in this country.
The ABUAD founder ruled out the possibility of a good leader emerging from this warped and weak 1999 Constitution, warning that ” we can’t afford to toy with the destiny of the nation by conducting elections that won’t yield positive results”.
Aare Babalola said: “I decided to talk because this country is now different from the one I used to know. That is why we need a new constitution after President Muhammadu Buhari that will spell out rules and regulations on the qualifications of those who are qualified to contest elections.
Making specific recommendations on how to correct the numerous ills, Aare Babalola said much as he would want President Muhammadu Buhari to complete his mandatory four year tenure, an interim government should be immediately put in place at the expiration of Buhari’s tenure.
“I believe that whoever is seeking elections as a President, governors and National Assembly members should not be more than 60 years, with good and sound health, sound education, experience, good human relations, friendliness and firmness, vision and mission, among others.
“The new constitution shall provide for part time legislators and not full time and the attendant wasting of resources, who will be collecting allowances and not salaries. Proposes federal system of government rather than presidential system and a parliamentary system with a unicameral legislature”.
The Legal luminary clarified that the responsibility of the Interim Government shall be to midwife the birth of a new People’s Constitution which would save the country from imminent doom.
Outlining modalities for the composition of the Interim Government, Babalola said ” members of the Interim Government should be drawn from all living former Presidents, Vice Presidents ,some selected Ministers and Governors ,delegates of professional bodies like the NBA, NMA, ASUU, NLC, NUJ and Civil Society Organisations “
He explained that such members shall be elected on zero party bases to chat a new course for the country.
Babalola said “recent events in the country have confirmed that many political gladiators have been warming up for the 2023 General elections.
“The development is not surprising ,because the constitution foisted on Nigerians by the military in 1999 has made politics, not only very attractive but the only lucrative business in Nigeria today .It has now given birth to many politicians who are in fact,” Transactional Leaders”.
” Now that Nigeria is at the tip of the precipe arising from poor management of the economy. In fact, Nigetia is on the brink of bankruptcy.
“The naira which was N199 to $1 I year 2015 is now exchanges for N570 to $1 today .The external debt which was USDS$10.7billion in 2015 is now over USDS38billion today and the government is borrowing more., spending more but earning less revenue .The worse thing is that the debt servicing level is also rising. ” Babalola lamented.
“In 2020, Nigeria was ranked as the poorest country in the world with over 50 percent of Nigerians living in extreme poverty while over 70 million Nigerians are in urgent need of life saving assistance”, he regretted.
Babalola added that; “I am of the firm conviction that moneybags now control the lever of powers, if we allow the present constitution beyond 2023, what we will be getting is recycling leadership, who will continue the old ways.
“We need a constitution that will throw up young, brilliant, dedicated people to save this country. We can’t get all these under the present constitution.
“We need a new set of leaders in our nation. Leaders who will not see themselves as Mr Know -All and who will not see themselves as above anyone”. Babalola said.