ConstitutionLab Flags Off Forum in Lagos to Educate Citizens on the Constitution of Nigeria

The Nigerian Constitution is the Supreme Law of the land, however, many do not have a working knowledge of the Constitution which has provided a leeway for manipulation to favour a few as against the masses.

The Constitution Forum is one of the strategies by ConstitutionLab to provide Nigerians with a working knowledge of the Constitution by providing a place where the Constitution is analyzed and discussed in line with present-day issues to work around solutions that could be derived from the forum.

Constitution Forum 1.0 took place on Friday 31st May 2019. It was organized by ConstitutionLab, web based platform that simplifies the constitution using technology, in partnership with Civic Hive.

The event organizer and team lead of ConstitutionLab, Brownson Etimbuk informed the audience that ConstitutionLab is a Civic Tech solution to educate citizens on the Constitution of Nigeria, Laws, Acts and Policies of Government to enable active participation in governance.

The event had Barrister Busola Kolade and Barrister Timi Olagunju who are Constitutional Lawyers and Policy experts as speakers.

Speaking during the event, Mr Iyanuoluwa Bolarinwa, Manager, Civic Hive, stated that Civic Hive is a civic tech nest where technological solutions to civic and governance issues are incubated, helping existing CSOs and providing an ecosystem where civic tech solutions can thrive. Civic Hive is a brainchild of BudgIT Foundation.

Barrister Busola traced the historical development of the Nigerian Constitution to the pre-Independence and post-Independence era. The present 1999 Constitution was majorly an adaptation of the 1979 Constitution by a committee headed by Justice Niki Tobi. She referred to the Constitution as a “tokunbo” Constitution that has been both a blessing and a curse to democracy in Nigeria and called for a total overhaul of the Constitution.

Barrister Timi Olagunju pointed out that ignorance by the masses on the powers of the Constitution is a serious problem that should be addressed by solutions like the one being offered by ConstitutionLab. He also addressed the issue of revenue allocation as enshrined in the Constitution as being faulty as well as the need to reduce the cost of governance through the operation of a unicameral legislature.

Members of the audience gave their opinion of the Nigerian Constitution and signed up to be trained as Constitution Champions to take the knowledge to the masses because governance is the concern of all citizens.

The Constitution Forum will be held in various States of the Federation and tertiary Institutions to educate Nigerians on the Constitution in addition to the tech platform.

The event had in attendance members of the Lagos State Youth Parliament, civil society organizations, Tertiary Institutions and entrepreneurs.

Yishawu further drew attention to Non-Governmental Organisations that are working to get young Nigerians without smartphones or access to technology in underserved communities get registered with the help of an internet-enabled computers.

Another panelist, Gabriel Okeowo, Chief Executive Officer, CEO, BudgIT Foundation, said though INEC seems to have done its homework with the continuous online registration process for PVC and the fact that completion process which involves biometric data is completed physically. 

The BudgIT boss reminded young people that they are the most influential stakeholders in the electoral process only if they will value their vote and be strategic. 

“Know the value of your vote!”, he advised young Nigerians.

However, he said with advancement in technology it’s high time the nation engaged the use of technology for the collation of election results.

Gabriel also advised INEC to eradicate challenges that disenfranchise eligible voters from exercising their civic rights, most especially issues like change in location, disability, and those in the hospital, “why can’t we have a polling unit in our hospitals,” he asked.

Mary Ikoku, the communications strategist, expressed her excitement for young Nigerians who recently turned 18 who now have the opportunity to be registered. 

“This will certainly result in a major leap in the number of registered voters, and hopefully increase political participation amongst young people,” she said.

In Mary’s advice to the youths, “focus on the real issues, be intentional and very strategic about your involvement in politics”, even as she encouraged them to see the older politicians as allies and not enemies.

She was strong on the need for INEC to enshrine its electoral regulations in the constitution through the lawmakers, as that is the only way to sync its processes with the electoral law.

Curated from hypestationng

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