In a riveting account, Wole Olanipekun, former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), revealed a startling incident involving ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo. Olanipekun narrated how he dared to suggest constitutional amendments during Obasanjo’s administration, leading to a heated exchange that almost turned physical.
During the 32nd and 33rd convocation lecture at Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU) in Ogun State, Olanipekun passionately labeled the 1999 constitution as “fake.” He emphasized that this foundational document lacked the essential elements needed to tackle the multifaceted challenges facing Nigeria.
As a seasoned lawyer, Olanipekun acknowledged the paradox of lawyers practicing a constitution they deem flawed. He clarified that legal professionals operate within the existing legal framework, not as they wish it to be. Advocating for a constitutional overhaul, he shared a gripping anecdote from 2002 when, as NBA president, he confronted Obasanjo with the need for change. The encounter, as Olanipekun vividly recalled, was so intense that it almost escalated to a physical altercation.
Undeterred by past challenges, Olanipekun urged the current leadership, specifically addressing President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to prioritize the urgent restructuring of the nation. He warned that without prompt action, the future of Nigeria, especially the diaspora-dwelling youth, could be jeopardized, with the potential consequence of them not returning home.
Olanipekun’s revelations not only shed light on the deficiencies of Nigeria’s constitution but also underscore the critical need for transformative reforms. As the call for restructuring resonates, the echoes of that intense confrontation serve as a powerful reminder of the urgency to shape a constitution with a humane face, capable of addressing the evolving challenges of a dynamic nation.