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Nigeria: Vice-President Calls for Review of Constitution

(Dec. 2, 2007) Nigeria's Vice-President, Goodluck Jonathan, on November 20, 2007, said that the country's Constitution is inadequate and in need of amendment. Speaking at the International Conference on Federalism being held in New Delhi, he argued that the 1999 document does not accommodate current developments. Jonathan further said that most Nigerians see the current federalist system as militaristic in nature and the power relationships between federal, state, and local governments as unbalanced. He attributed the situation to the history of years of military rule in the country, which had the effect of weakening civil governance and ultimately of eroding the federalist structure. Decrees were imposed and rights limited under the post-1999 government. Jonathan also discussed the agitation in Nigeria today over military rule, environmental degradation, and poverty.

Agreeing with some of the critics of the current system, he said that they:

'suggest that the present arrangements flow from the militarist tradition that is undemocratic in all its ramifications. They demand constitutional changes. And as the government at the centre, our focus is to deliver on the promise of our founding fathers that 'though tribe and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we stand.'

( Why Constitution Must be Reviewed, by Jonathan, THE GUARDIAN (Lagos), Nov. 21, 2007.)