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Eminent Leaders of Thought, Including Ex-Heads of State, to Meet Over New Constitution, Inaugurate Prof. Ben Nwabueze Memorial National Conversation

Eminent Leaders of Thought, Including Ex-Heads of State, to Meet Over New Constitution, Inaugurate Prof. Ben Nwabueze Memorial National Conversation

In a major national broadcast, the chairman of the Patriots, a group of eminent leaders of thought in Nigeria, and former Secretary General of the Commonwealth of Nations, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, announced that a national dialogue will be held to help build national consensus, especially among the Nigerian elite, on the constitutional future of Nigeria, especially on how to make the country work for all its diverse peoples and citizens.

IMG 20240317 122700 REPORT AFRIQUE International Eminent Leaders of Thought, Including Ex-Heads of State, to Meet Over New Constitution, Inaugurate Prof. Ben Nwabueze Memorial National Conversation

Chief Emeka Anyaoku

The meeting, scheduled to be held at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Lagos, on March 17, is being convened in honour of the late Prof Ben Nwabueze, SAN, a foremost champion and protagonist of the National Confab of 2014.

According to the statement, the historic national meeting is also expected to set a formidable citizens’ agenda for the ongoing constitution review process initiated by the National Assembly, to popularly configure, stabilise and develop Nigeria through constructive advocacy for a new democratic people’s constitution to replace the subsisting military decree No. 24 of 1999, which is currently the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

The statement added that in line with Nwabueze’s inclusive and pan-Nigerian vision and consistent with the efforts to rally the elite of the six geopolitical zones, the organizers have sent out invitations to eminent personalities from all parts of Nigeria, including past heads of state and chief executives, Senate Presidents, Speakers of the House of Representatives, State Governors, Ministers, academics, notable professionals and other leaders of thought.

Nwabueze, who was one of the most consistent and eminent Nigerians who have always advocated a change from a military-made constitution to a people-made constitution for Nigeria, is widely regarded as the “Chief Lawyer of the Nigerian People.” He died at the age of 91 on December 6, 2022, and was laid to rest on February 25, 2023, in Atani, Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra State.

The Patriots noted that Nwabueze’s life and career as an advocate for popular government, democracy, the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary, can serve as a useful roadmap for the progress of Nigeria and that the country can draw from his legacies to improve its state of governance and national unity through the effective reformation of its system of government.

They added that Nwabueze, who had a brilliant career in academia and law, was widely respected by all parts of the country for his unshakable commitment to the ideals of democracy, federalism, respect for the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, and the indivisibility of Nigeria.

According to the statement, some of the noted nationalists whose names have been mentioned for the dialogue include General Yakubu Gowon, former head of state and chairman of the Nigeria Prays, General Olusegun Obasanjo, former head of state and president, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, former head of state, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, former vice president and presidential candidate.

Others include Chief Olusegun Osoba, former governor of Ogun State and newspaper publisher, Chief Anthony Enahoro, one of the most acclaimed nationalists in Nigeria, Chief John Nwodo, a former minister and Secretary-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, as well as a host of other elder statesmen from the six geopolitical zones of the country.

Some of the foremost legal practitioners expected to grace the event are Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr Femi Falana, SAN, a human rights lawyer and human rights advocate, Chief Richard Akinjide, SAN, a former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mrs Priscilla Kuye, SAN, a senior partner at Kuye and Olatunbosun, Mr Onyekachi Ubani, a past chairman of the NBA, Mr Damian Dodo, SAN, former NBA president, and Mrs Funke Adekoya, SAN, one of the most distinguished legal practitioners in Nigeria.

The Patriots noted that the national dialogue is expected to set a path for a new constitutional arrangement that will result in a just, equitable and peaceful country, while also ensuring respect for the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary as essential foundations for a united, cohesive and progressive Nigeria.

The meeting will also provide an opportunity for Nigerians to address some of the challenges facing the country, including insecurity, the economy, unemployment, poverty, education, and health, among others.

This Article is Fact-Checked. See Policy.
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