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Nigeria Collapsing Under ‘Fraudulent’ 1999 Constitution, INC Chief Tells Obasanjo

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YENAGOA – The President of the Ijaw National Congress (INC), Professor Benjamin Okaba, has berated former President Olusegun Obasanjo for using the 1999 constitution of Nigeria to justify his claims that crude oil and gas in the Niger Delta belonged to the country and not the people of the region.

Okaba, who spoke on ‘The Morning Show’ programme of Arise Television on Thursday, described Obasanjo’s position as a second thought as it contradicts his earlier argument that mineral resources in the Niger Delta were given by God for all Nigerians.

He argued that the former President could not be relying on a Constitution that had been variously rejected and described as a fraud and a military document imposed on Nigerians.

Okaba said the unitary characteristics of the 1999 constitution which Obasanjo celebrates, had become the major reason Nigeria was collapsing on all sides as the constitution remained a faulty foundation of the country.

He said, “The Nigerian (1999) constitution, which OBJ is now relying on, is a product of unrepresentative drafting and, to a large extent, most of the provisions therein are military-driven. So the constitution is fraudulent, satanic and it has not served anybody any good.

“In fact, the 1999 constitution is a foundation for the collapse of Nigeria; every fabric of Nigeria, the economy, educational system, and infrastructure are all collapsing. Reforms will not serve the situation. We need overall restructuring because OBJ talked about reforms believing that, that will help to bring normalcy to Nigeria.

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“But we know that under a constitution that is faulty, not people-driven but hurriedly put together a few weeks before the ascendancy of OBJ to power (in 1999), cannot do us any good. So the various agitations across the country are clear evidence that for Nigeria to work, we must do away with this constitution and go back to the basics.

“And in a federation, resource ownership, fiscal federalism are paramount and every constitution that talks about federalism and does not recognize ownership of resources by the people is faulty.”

The INC chief stated that Section 140 of the 1963 constitution, which Obasanjo made reference to in his open letter of reply to that of Ijaw nation leader and elder statesman, Edwin Clark, gave 50 percent of proceeds from mineral resources to regions in recognition of their ownership of the resources.

Okaba contended that the former president was “representing a class of people who had fought so hard to sustain a system that is colonial, military-driven and serves hegemonic interest against the interest of other people in Nigeria.”

He further said, “So the 1999 constitution remains an albatross, a problem and is the reason why we are where we are today. And those who are fighting tirelessly to sustain the status quo are doing it for a self-seeking purpose; to protect their hegemonic interest.

“It is high time we restructured and allow people who feel dissatisfied with the current system to seek self-determination. If not, as we said earlier, if they make restructuring impossible, they make the re-bundling of Nigeria inevitable.”

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