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Need for constitutional review on fundamental objectives

By Ayodele Fagbohun


The present contemptuous and carefree attitude of government towards poor implementation of some defined social and political objectives like education, health, etc otherwise and constitutionally termed as fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy calls for constant and urgent constitutional review.
Little wonder, there is palpable noticeable and wanton dereliction, criminal neglect of obligation of the government to the peace loving resilient and good country men and women.
If this unpleasant and iniquitous scenario in almost all facets of our endeavours, be it in education or in employment is left to fester and degenerate the nation may adrift as it, and suffer instability, holocaust and great turmoil.
By definition, social objectives say like education, health, equality before the law, for instance for which a state is founded, that any government that worths its salt, is instituted as a means for the pursuit and achievement of these laudable ends.
Constitution is made for the purpose of declaring and entrenching the ends, prescribing the structure of government and procedure of establishing it. It should be underscored that social objectives should be amply defined and constitutional provisions are made and expressly enshrined for legal enforcement.
This innovation will enable the practitioners of the constitution to be more alive to their duties, be more serious, earnest and forthcoming in the science and art of good purposeful governance.
According to the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, provisions of Nigeria Constitution should not be reduced to worthless platitudes and hollow admonitions . But first, a constitutions legal document, must contain provision that is justiciable and legally enforceable for practical purposes.
For instance, on education it provides as follows. “ The government shall strive to eradicate illiteracy. To this end, subject to the availability of resources, the government shall provide free compulsory and universal primary Education. Free secondary education. Free University Education, and free Adult Literacy programmes”.
As at today, it is a matter of regret and a complete drawback on the economy of the country that this lofty provision in our constitution is a mere paper tiger not worth the paper it was written over some decades.
The framers of the constitution probably out of sheer indolence and overestimation of an average Nigerian politician given to unpredictable and unscrupulous behaviour, no Nigerian government deems it fit to faithfully implement free education even at the primary and post-primary public institutions and adult literacy programme across the country.
The government often conveniently finds recourse to empty and pious phrase “unavailability of funds” which is common in the constitution.
The law court, the judiciary is not on the side of the people to enforce provision of mass education and adult literacy programme throughout the federation if at all to curb to the barest minimum, the waves of insecurity, youth restiveness, kidnapping, social gangsterism and other committant social evils and vices across the country.
The few progmatic fiery social activists and the Non Government Organisations (NGOs) will only make usual futile attempts in our law courts when eventually confronted with fait accompli of having no locus standi to prosecute case for free education that is the duty of any responsible government committed to the welfare and security of the people, the common man on the street.
The second instance concerns the freedom of the press. “The Press, Radio, Television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in the constitution and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people”,
To enable the press to effectively perform its statutory functions to the public, it must be guaranteed access to information and fundamental free superior to individual freedom enjoined in the constitution.
The gory aftermath of the unfortunate ENDSARS protest, invasion of social media to overawe the basic traditional institutions of mass media are suggestive of an endangered press which could be inimical and detrimental to good government in all its ramification capable of imperil the whole country in no distant time.
The earlier the Press, Radio and TV should be insulated from the vagaries of partisan politics, petty imbroglio and sectarian violence the better for the country.
Equality before the law should be open to all Nigerians inrespective of ethnic or cultural and religious considerations.
It must be reiterated that the social objectives as adumbrated in the constitution to say the least are too pedestrian, vague and leisurely to meet the expectations and yearning of the people.
Politicians should not regard public office as an avenue to lost public funds and living without work as the Great Lincholn put it ,“ leading a life of pimp and pageantry and of dissolute ease and pleasure.”
There is no sense of discipline or urgency anywhere in the country. Leaders only pay lip service to patriotism and mere service to fatherland. No national goals if any at all is submerged with reckless abandon. Everybody operates to himself and God for all.
This nonchalant and self-seeking attitude to public office must be stamped out to exercise corruption from our public and private lives.
Towards this end, it must be inserted in the constitution, some provisions to grant relief and succour within the shortest possible time.
The provision to abolish unemployment and under- employment within five years, that payment of unemployment relief allowances shall be introduced for a period of five years within which provision of full and gainful employment to the army of jobless graduates and school leavers on the unemployment relief roll.
In the field of education, the constitution should expressly provide tuition, books and examinations. Fees free at all levels up to the age of 16years. On completion of primary school, a child is too tender to be employable. He must proceed to other suitable level of entrepreneurial vocation for skills acquisitions or further academic endeavours free of charge as the case many be .
Provision of suitable literature for literate adult shall be introduced to curb act of loitering or lazying around for criminal and unwholesome activities.
In the field of health, there should be provision for free medical services for all Nigerian citizens and cottage hospitals, maternity centres, health clinics and dispensaries should be instituted across all the nooks and crannies for easy access to medical facilities especially the primary health care.
In the sphere of politics, constitution must make a radical departure from the gargantuan waste on overheads. It is time to embark on surgical to delimitation of various constituencies and prune the preponderate numbers of elected lawmakers, elected governors and numberless political appointees known and unknown who are mere appointees drains and incumbrances on the economy and calamitous bane of good government.
With speed and alacrity, the obnoxious phrase “subject to availability of funds resources must be expunged from the constitution which clearly precludes provision of free education impossible to implement across the country in spite of the huge resources outrageously wasted and frittered away on frivolities and inanities. “Penny wise, pound foolish.

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