Elder statesman Afe Babalola has said that the 1999 Constitution will not guarantee the emergence of credible leaders at the next month’s general elections.
“Unless a new constitution similar to those of 1960 and 1963 Constitutions, with necessary amendments, is put in place, none of the aspirants, and indeed no angel, can save Nigeria from total collapse,” he said at a news conference on Wednesday in Ekiti.
He said this following the endorsement of Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Speaking further, Babalola recalled calling for an interim government to pave way for a review of the 1999 Constitution.
“I still stand by my suggestion that any election conducted under the 1999 Constitution cannot and will not produce new leaders with new ideas.
“Any election conducted under the 1999 Constitution will merely result in recycling the same people who brought Nigeria to grinding poverty, mass unemployment, underfunded education, insecurity and huge external debts,” Mr Babalola said.
The elder statesman noted that only a moneybag and not the best-qualified candidates could win the February presidential election under the present constitutional arrangement.
He explained that the LP presidential candidate’s adoption by former President Obasanjo was his right of expression and might result from the contestant’s acclaimed untainted records of character and sound education.
He stressed that the 1999 Constitution needed to be revised to produce the type of change agent and developmental leader Mr Obasanjo had in mind.
“If I contest for political office today, I will fail, not because I am not qualified, but because the system will make me not to win.
“I have no sympathy for any Nigerian aspiring to rule Nigeria in any form, whether as a legislator, governor or president.
“The fact remains that the 1999 Constitution, on a large scale, is the root cause of economic, social, political and religious problems in the country today.
“The new constitution should provide for stringent conditions in respect of age, academic qualifications, character and personality, as well as the family background of candidates, especially for the presidency and the National Assembly,”[/b] Mr Babalola said.
He also noted that Nigeria’s external debt had risen to N42.84 trillion as of June 30, 2022, while domestic debt servicing rose to N5.24 trillion in the same period.
He said that any Nigerian aspiring to lead the country ought to be worried about the country’s debt profile and advocated for urgent measures to defray the huge foreign debts.
“In addition, the government should emulate Obasanjo’s example by approaching the country’s creditors, either for total debt forgiveness or for substantial reduction of the debts,” the legal luminary stressed.