Inkanyiso: Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences

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Jonathan’s Constitutional Conference in Nigeria: A reflection and a radical critique

Adeniyi S. Basiru, Mashud L.A. Salawu, Martins A. Arogundade


The process of bringing forth a constitution is as crucial and important as the constitution itself. However, while this ideal has been institutionalized in many liberal democracies, it is yet to be fully embraced in many illiberal countries. In Nigeria, the focus of this discourse, the process of constitution-making is as old as the country itself but such processes had always followed the same pattern: elite engineered, paternalistically-driven and above all, devoid of citizens’ imprints via a referendum. It is against this backdrop that this article, in a retrospective and analytical manner, examines and offers a democratic critique ofNigeria’s most recent attempt at Nigeria’s constitutional engineering, the Jonathan’s Constitutional Conference (JCC) of 2014. It observes that President Jonathan-initiated Constitutional Conference mimicked the paternalistic character of the previous attempts at constitution-making and as such the process is not markedly different from the old. It submits that as long as the state elites, acting on behalf of the hegemonic faction of the dominant class, continue to see constitution-making as their exclusive reserve and are always willing to defend even a bad constitution, the search for a people’s constitution would continue.

Keywords: constitution, Nigerian state, referendum, hegemony, paternalism, Goodluck Jonathan

AJOL African Journals Online