“We the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, having firmly and solemnly resolve, to live in unity and harmony as one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign nation under God, dedicated to the promotion of inter African solidarity , world peace, international co-operation and understanding; And to provide for a constitution for the purpose of promoting the good government and welfare of all persons in our country, on the principles of freedom, equality and justice, and for the purpose of consolidating the unity of our people. Do hereby make, enact and give to ourselves the following Constitution”

The preamble of the 1999 constitution

Above is the preamble of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria. A constitution that we have had for 20 years, but anytime I see this little preamble that should be a summary of the intention of Nigerians I often wonder, who were the “we”? How many people made “the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria” who “firmly and solemnly resolve”? If there is no true agreement of the Nigerian people then shouldn’t every other line of the constitution be considered invalid? Did we have a representative from each state, one from each geopolitical region or maybe one from each ethnic group (imagine how rowdy that meeting will be)?

Let us assume we have a representative across each sector, well then, who picked them? Where they nominated by the group they represent and who gave the nominee the power to nominate them? For example, the House of Assembly enacts a law, although the bill for that law was proposed by a member of the House of Assembly, yet every person who has a vote pertaining to whether or not this bill should be passed into law were all themselves elected by members of that state. I don’t think it will be wrong to say that the law was made by the people of that state.


During Gen. Abdilsalami Abubakar regime, he constituted a Constitution Debate Coordinating Committee made up of 25 members headed by Justice Niki Tobi. These members were not elected by the Nigerian people but were appointed by that regime. The recommendation of the committee was given within two months of the formation of the committee and approved by the Armed Forces Ruling Council, thus the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was created

Nigeria is a country that is made up of diverse ethnic groups, 6 geopolitical regions and 36 states. I wonder which states did not have a representative in the creation of the 1999 constitution. Well, the answer to that can only be all of them because none of the members of that committee was ever elected. In 2011 the constitution was first amended by an elected legislature. Although some part of the constitution was amended, the majority of the original constitution remained untouched. This is just merely the first out of other amendments and there is hope that the constitution will continue to be amended until the peoples’ mandate can be found in every facet of the 1999 constitution

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