The Nigerian dilemma stems from constitutional confusion. There can never be a rule of law without a constitution that respects the laws of Nigeria, internationally recognized laws of Nigeria. Nigerian history is replete with so many constitutional changes to the extent that no one seems to keep track with how the true constitution looked like. But without such a direction how can a nation be built? This treatise will trace the catastrophic political discoloring of the true Nigerian constitution because this will provide us the long sought after basis for the repair of Nigeria .As soon as we can identify this constitution we can talk about rule of law; we can define what is right and wrong actions and we would be capable of identifying the true enemies of Nigeria as well as how to handle them.

Along the path to independence and beyond there has been many constitutions. Yes, many contradictory constitutions. You have heard of the Richards’s constitution, the Macpherson’s, etc. Surely you know about the 1966 Military ousted clauses, designed with the help of our lawyers to help them engage in governance without legal scruples. What about the short circuit Decrees that created States from 1967 down to 1979 and the ones that confiscated land and rivers and seas to render the people of the Niger Delta and others homeless? Also, do not forget how we came about the leprous 1999 constitution.-A military compromise with civilian collaborators to help them avoid probe. There are many who would argue that we cannot be stagnant but always change with time, but you can move speedily backwards in time; to such an extent that you will have to work extra hard to get back to your starting point. And this smells very much like Nigeria of today. Some of you may see constitutional changes as a necessity for growth, a product of change and the times. You may be right there, but like we pointed out earlier ,what type of change has occurred in our constitutions along those years and has it direct correlation to where we find ourselves today? Yes it has, because which ever direction we took we have hit a dead end with it. Our people want out of this journey to nowhere and fast. Maybe we need to determine empirically where we are, in terms of desirability or otherwise of our people for positive changes in our present situation to proceed with this exercise. But this exercise is also no longer possible within Nigeria where the cloud of deceit will blow away any flickering flame of hope without further ado. Fundamental changes are called for on the systemic front. What it boils down to is to educate Nigerians that constitutional changes are always to be guided by a set of principles that take root from the stated fundamental objectives of state action from the very beginning of statehood. Ironically those discoloring changes do not always tamper with such sections because then the international community may notice the changes. Instead such multination spearheaded by so called legal luminaries and deceitful elite for short term gains are designed to deceive and exploit the mass unlettered, thereby leading patriotic Nigeria astray.

A constitution is like a vehicle designed to get a State from one place to the other. At independence the Nigerian State wished to move to nationhood and then prosperity. Nationhood because she has to forge unity of purpose among the diverse peoples because this is a precondition for united action needed to bring about prosperity and happiness. It means that growth arises only when we move towards nationhood as a stepping stone to prosperity. It means that you cannot achieve sustainable growth avoiding nationhood in this quest. The question arises for many readers: what actions presuppose the right move towards nationhood? This question is almost premature in coming and may even be presumptuous because this analysis will reach that point with time here, but we can go ahead to answer it. Nationhood demands actions that seek to establish common national values rather than divisive ones. For instance nationhood would seek to define citizenship and provide the citizen with a national yardstick for performance in place of making two rules one for the North, the other for the south; one for indigenes, the other for settlers; one rule for the governing class the other for commoners; one rule for Muslims the other for Christians; one rule for the Military, the other for civilians; one rule for the educationally disadvantaged the other for the advantaged. The irony about these divisions is that we expect all these groups to come together under a ‘one man one vote’ basis during elections because the World expect Nigeria to speak with one voice.

Already it is too deep in the course of an analysis to give such details. However let us not lose sight of the trend of thought here. The right way to go for Nigeria was and remains towards nationhood. The changing constitutions should have pointed the way thereto since they could not by meaning and definition reinvent the wheel. Yes, the wheel we are talking about was established in the 1960-1963 constitution. This constitution is the only bases for the existence of Nigeria as an independent sovereign state in the comity of Nations. This is why. On independence, Nigeria was so to say launched unto the global stage because it accepted to abide by certain principles of civilized behavior; to respect the sovereignty of other states and to abide by basic international legal statutes that may guide international trade and relationships. It was like opening a new website which has to be launched into the World Wide Web in order to receive full patronage and recognition from users. Such new website must conform to internationally recognized code of conduct and may derive its integrity from such launching that cannot be replicated for one State. The world sees Nigeria through the prism of her declaration of independence and the integrity perceived by other nations and states made it possible for Nigeria’s acceptance into the comity of sovereign states and gave her the chance to participate in international trade, to owe and be owed. She was not a pariah. Also by virtue of the agreements she signed, treaties entered into whether multilateral or bilateral, she endorsed the operation of global bodies like the United Nations Organization and other agencies like World Bank, International monetary fund, etc. Nigeria agreed like others to respect human rights of her citizens, to protect lives and property and to make laws to protect the weak, youth, children and women. All these must not change in a constitutional review without becoming counter to that integrity built by Nigeria at independence from where our rule of law should emanate and find fulfillment.

So what is then the right constitutional basis for the rule of law in Nigeria? It is the independence constitution and it must guide any future constitutional review to meet genuine aspirations of the Nigerian State. Any deviation from those provisions as happened in 1967 when the military ousted many clauses to accommodate their emergency rule is null and void as from this moment. .It does not ask for debate. It has ceased to exist and must be recognized as a useless aberration no matter how long it lasted. It is time we recognized that Nigeria has lost those years and can wake up now to continue with her match to build a nation instead of remaining in limbo. The beautiful thing about doing what is right is that you need nobody’s approval. All approvals have been given in print and launched for the whole world to see in 1960 and 1963.Those who wishes to follow the wrong Nigeria cannot claim to be under the rule of law, but they can retain their free will to continue along the wrong path. For all the discerning now is the call for great leadership to proceed along the right and shinning path of national liberation and redemption.

To rebuild Nigeria does not necessarily require elections , debates or referendums but abiding faithfully to the rule of the right law. It entails discerning between what is in conformity with national aspirations, where and when to find out the purpose of Nigeria and most importantly appreciating the deep significance of natural laws to the weaving of world events. When the Creator made the world as we read in sacred books, He gave the fiat: ‘Let there be light’. By this volition, and words He created the World. Ever since, the world has grown from there. These words cannot change because it represents the foundation stone of that eternal up-building. Nobody has yet come up with a reinvention of this world happening. The same faint boundaries are drawn for founding a Nation. It is also eternal and spiritually supported in the same way so no one can just wake up or decides to lay another foundation outside what the founding fathers did at independence. Such a person can jolly well go and found his own country with a different name. Little wonder that so many people see break up as option for Nigeria, yet with break up there will be no Nigeria. In building a Nation, you can only add to the eternal up building and those useless ‘additions’ will fall apart with time.

So why bother yourself carrying placards to protest what you know is wrong except you are not sure you stand aright. Why seek the approval of those who are lost anyway, when you should simply walk along the secure road to progress? This is the basic point being put forward here when debating the nature a Nigeria revolution which this writer earlier suggested will take. My suggestion that it would be a peaceful revolution drew the ire of readers as some felt that a ‘bloody revolution’ was all that was needed to liberate Nigeria. I am happy that the word ‘liberate’ has often been employed indicating that Nigeria is only in bondage. Yet to liberate one in bondage does not always entail bloodletting. Most times bondage may not mean imprisonment. So there may not be the warden or captor to deal with, but only a mindset woven and imposed by the wise over the ignorant. Remove this dark blanket of ignorance that covers Nigeria, sustained by our senseless obeisance to the inconsequential and unworthy ruler ship through awareness and proper education and information and as Zik wrote, ‘Show the Light and the people will find their way”

You cannot give what you don’t have. This is why we need a period of unaffected debate to acquire what we shall give out, not mudslinging because if you focus your mind on what is wrong you strengthen it as you end up connecting your energies to it thereby relieving you of your strength for positive decision making and in obedience to the law of balance, also uplifting your opponent while keeping you deeper in bondage as those you wish to liberate. The basic change of attitude is that there is a right road to follow, and that it makes sense. Then the next step is to begin to believe in this value system and refuse to look up to those who are down there for strength. As long as the true Nigeria is being built, no matter where the reconstruction is being done,[ you know that distance is no barrier at this technological age] the fake Nigeria will begin to diminish until these others having also become better educated join the band wagon out of their own volition. This revolution will come in a whimper because then we would have established the true constitutional basis for the rule of law and we could clearly identify the outlaws. Those who can trace the spiritual basis of Nigerian existence to the independence constitution will find themselves in stronger positions to pick up the pieces as soon as the fake foundation come crashing by.

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Comment by Nwokedi Nworisara on December 30, 2009 at 8:32pm
Thanks,Chris for finding time to read the article.This article is targeted to those who to borrow your words need to learn 'Algebra', not "arithmetic'.Leadership is not for all.Nigeria needs leadership to point the direction before the masses follow. It is precisely the dearth of such leadership that leads the masses astray.It is time we get back to the root causes of our woes instead of waisting time lamenting the effects.What you complained is only the effects of a wrong political system because the system determines the behavior of people within it. The constitution fine tunes the system so that the laws and institutions that enforce them are in tandem.Nigerians are good people made bad by a bad system which can be easily corrected to lay a spiritual bases for rebirth.
Comment by Agwazia Chris on December 30, 2009 at 4:13pm
Mr. Nwokedi, I wonder why you border about constitutional reforms when you know that existing laws are not respected. Have you ever noticed that it's only in Nigeria that one can drive without driving licence or kill without going to jail. But it doesn't mean that we don't have existing laws on those materials and many others. Please let's start teaching our young ones aritmetics before algebra.

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