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INC calls on President Tinubu to restore 1963 constitution

The Ijaw National Congress (INC) has urged President Bola Tinubu to revert Nigeria to the 1963 constitution, following his recent decision to reinstate the old national anthem.

On Wednesday, President Tinubu signed the Old National Anthem Bill into law, bringing back the “Nigeria, We Hail Thee” anthem and abolishing the “Arise O Compatriots” anthem. The old anthem, written by British citizen Lillian Williams, was used from the 1960s until 1978.

In an interview with Saturday PUNCH, INC National Publicity Secretary Chief Ezonebi Oyakemeagbegha commended the President for this move, describing it as a bold step towards correcting historical wrongs imposed by the military junta.

“The Ijaw National Congress Worldwide supports the reversion to the old national anthem. It is a welcome development,” Oyakemeagbegha said. “We believe it’s a bold step by the President, Senator Bola Tinubu, to correct most of the wrongs by the military junta.”

However, Oyakemeagbegha urged President Tinubu to extend this initiative by reinstating the 1963 constitution, which operated under a parliamentary system. He criticized the current 1999 Constitution as forcibly imposed on Nigerians, particularly to the detriment of the Niger Delta people whose resources are exploited.

“We strongly believe that there will soon be a call to abolish the 1999 Constitution, which was forcibly introduced to enslave the Nigerian people, especially those in the Niger Delta,” he stated. “We call for the reintroduction of the 1963 constitution, where states are empowered to control their resources and pay taxes to the Federal Government. All constitutions after 1963 should be abolished.”

Oyakemeagbegha emphasized that the 1963 constitution was inclusive, ensuring that both minorities and majorities were represented without oppression. He urged for a return to this system to prevent future instability and address the unbearable suffering of the common people.

Echoing the INC’s stance, Abuja-based human rights lawyer Tolu Babaleye argued that reverting to the 1963 legal framework would enhance stability, reduce insecurity, and promote equitable development. He noted that the Niger Delta region has suffered from an inability to control its resources and stressed the need for restructuring.

“The President should restructure the country back to regionalism as it was in 1963,” Babaleye said. “This will empower states to control their resources and stop the practice of relying on federal allocations. Restructuring will also reduce insecurity and prevent the misuse of some states’ resources for the development of others.”

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