Nigerian Legal luminary and Founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD), Chief Afe Babalola has stated that Nigeria may cease to exist if, before the 2023 general election, the 1999 Constitution is not gotten rid of.
He described the constitution as a symbol of all that was wrong with the country and must make way for a people-oriented constitution.
In an interview published by Saturday Sun, Babalola explained that the people’s constitution could only be produced through a Sovereign National Conference and not by amending the present one.
“People are hungry for a sovereign national conference and they will vote certainly for a constitution that will change the current constitution, not amending it.
“We need a new and total change in the constitution, representing the people’s constitution, with true federalism, or alternatively, let us return to the 1966 constitution with just few amendments.
“Without that, we may never have a Nigerian nation. We are getting farther, farther away from being a Nigerian nation now,” the elder statesman noted.
Babalola revealed how he was approached by several presidents and heads of state, including late Sani Abacha, to take up political appointments but turned them down.
On Abacha’s offer, he said, “I remember I was in my house, usually I go for break between the hours of 3 pm and 6 pm and have a short sleep, so my wife came to knock the door at about 6 pm that there was a call from Dodan barracks.
“I said to her ‘but I told you not to wake me up no matter who called me’ and she said ‘This is important, the caller is Abacha’.
“I woke up reluctantly, took the telephone, he knew me as a lawyer for soldiers who were put in court-martial, so he asked, did you hear that I have taken over?
“I answered yes sir. He then said. ‘I want you to be my Attorney General’ and I said ‘Yes sir’. ‘Now, I want to see you at Dodan barracks tomorrow at 9 am.’
“So, the next morning before I dressed up about six vehicles had come from Lagos with soldiers; they said they came to pick me up.
“I told them I won’t like to go in their vehicle; I would drive my own car, it didn’t matter whether I was in the front or at the back.
“They said ok and we went straight to Dodan barracks and I saw Abacha. He said ‘do you know the reason I have called you? I want you to take up the position of Attorney General’ and I said yes sir, let me go and tell my family.
“I left Dodan barracks, drove back to Ibadan because as at that time I was driving myself, I didn’t allow any driver to drive me.
“I got home, I told my people and my mother said ‘you want to be minister for soldiers?’
“I said even myself I didn’t want such a position and that I told him I was going to consult my family and I phoned him, I said sorry sir, my family is objecting to my taking up the position of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, that was how I turned that one down.”
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