Abeokuta — A former president of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Wole Olanipekun (SAN), yesterday narrated how former President Olusegun Obasanjo almost punched him when he advised him to amend the country’s constitution during his administration.
The legal luminary, who spoke while delivering the 32nd and 33rd Convocation Lecture of the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, described the 1999 Constitution as lacking the required elements to address the various challenges confronting the country.
He called for a total overhaul of the constitution.
Olanipekun said as president of the NBA in 2002, he led a delegation of members of the association to Obasanjo where he advised him to commence the process of amending the constitution, but the former president not only rejected the advice, but almost “boxed” him.
“We need a constitution with a humane face. I’m a lawyer, but we are deceiving ourselves, our constitution is fake, and I have said this over and over, but then you will ask us lawyers, ‘if we say the constitution is fake, why are we practicing it’? Lawyers and judges apply the law as it is, not the law as it ought to be, so we apply the law as we have it now, and we have been pleading that we should amend the constitution; let us overhaul it.
“I, as president of the NBA, led a delegation of the association to President Obasanjo in 2002, he almost boxed me. I’m here in Ogun State, and I’m saying this, he is still alive. He said ‘No you can’t change it’. I said Mr President, let us seize this opportunity to do it.
“We also appeal to the powers that be now, to our president, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, that the time for us to restructure this country is now. If we do not do it, these children that we have abroad might not return home, they won’t come here,” Olanipekun said.
He described previous alterations to the constitution as “charades and window-dressing” and called for the restructuring of the country.