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Onaiyekan backs Parliamentary System in call for review of Nigeria’s Constitution

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Nigeria’s current constitution faces potential reform, with prominent religious leader John Onaiyekan advocating for a closer look at its functionalities. The former Catholic Archbishop of Abuja made these remarks during an event organized by the Abuja School of Social and Political Thought, on Friday.

Onaiyekan criticized the document, claiming inconsistencies and a lack of clarity on the role of religion in nation-building. He further argued for decentralization of power and increased efficiency at the state level.

The cardinal said the constitution does not stipulate how religion is meant to contribute to nation-building.

“If we take the present constitution, whether amended or not, it is riddled with inconsistencies or contradictions, problems when it comes to seriously talking about how religion relates to the nation,” Onaiyekan said.

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“Which is why it is obvious we must look at it again. So, maybe it is good that we give it a look at changing to a parliamentary system.

“Perhaps we need to find out to ask those soldiers who threw away the parliamentary system and introduced the presidential system. What reasons did they have?”

The most intriguing aspect of his address was the suggestion to explore a parliamentary system of government. Nigeria currently operates under a presidential system, where the President serves as both head of state and head of government. A parliamentary system, in contrast, vests executive authority in a Prime Minister chosen by the legislature, with the head of state typically a symbolic figure.

Some Nigerians have expressed interest in exploring alternative systems, citing concerns about the winner-takes-all nature of the presidential system and the concentration of power in the presidency.

However, others remain cautious, questioning the practicality of such a drastic change and the potential disruptions it could cause.

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