Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, on Monday, lamented that most of the people who are supposed to operationalise the Nigerian Constitution are the ones undermining the country’s democracy.
According to Obasanjo, an example of constitutional abuse is a situation where members of the National Assembly fix their own salaries in clear usurpation of the duty of the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission
The ex-President spoke on Monday in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, at a public lecture orgnised as part of activities marking the 60th anniversary of the Call to Bar of the legal luminary and Founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, Aare Afe Babalola (SAN).
The lecture, titled, ‘The future of constitutional democracy in Nigeria: Imperative of a new constitutional order,’ was delivered by Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Matthew Kukah.
Obasanjo, in his remarks, said democracy was a preferred government but players needed to respect the laws to make it work for all.
“By the Nigerian Constitution, the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission is supposed to fix the salaries and emoluments of the members of the National Assembly, but they (lawmakers) set the constitution aside and decided to fix their salaries,” Obasanjo remarked.
While urging political leaders to put the interest of citizens ahead in all decisions, the ex-President pointed out that: “Democracy doesn’t mean anything to a man who is hungry, whose life is in danger or whose property is being destroyed.”
A joyful Babalola, who expressed gratitude to the dignitaries, friends and family members,who graced the occasion, reiterated that the 1999 Constitution could not produce good governance in the country, because of its flaws, which, he said, could only be remedied by coming up with a new constitution for the country.
The jurist made a case for better pay packages for judges, saying judges’ poor pay is a reason SANs don’t find going to the bench attractive.
Kukah, in his lecture, advocated that only men and women of integrity should be appointed as Supreme Court Justices.
He called on the Federal Government to shun nepotism.
“Nigeria needs to grow democratically and develop politically. Every federal institution must reflect what Nigeria should reflect all over the country.
“The country should stop reinforcing inequality. There must be sanctions and consequences for those who go against our democracy and the constitution of the land for us to have a better society.”
In his remarks, human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), called on President Bola Tinubu to show leadership and tackle corruption.
“Corruption has taken a dangerous dimension, the President should lead the anti-corruption crusade so that this country can take its rightful place in the comity of nations,” Falana said.
Ekiti State Governor, Biodun Oyebanji, described Afe Babalola as a gift to Ekiti State, noting that the legal luminary played a major role in the creation of Ekiti State, creating a platform for him and his predecessors to govern the state.