Constitution Building as a Panacea to Identity Conflicts in Africa: The Case of Nigeria

Chidi M. Amaechi, Obinna U. Muoh

Abstract


Africa is rife with sectional discontents which metamorphose into protracted conflicts, civil wars, and terrorism. With forlorn hopes of survival in the system and without a say in the constitution building process, disgruntled groups easily cloak their political and socio-economic dissatisfaction with ethnicity, religious or similar identities in order to arouse group affection. At present, Nigeria is at the brink of disintegration as a result of this problem. The country has witnessed about six constitutional arrangements since independence. Yet, the clamour for a new constitution remains constant and, invariably, influenced the convening of the 2014 National Constitutional Conference in the country. Since constitution building provides a good opportunity for the citizens and groups to enshrine their wishes in the instrument of governance and thereby preventing the degeneration of grievances into conflict, questions have continued to arise. Does the constitution making process in Nigeria involve the people for whom the laws are meant for? Are the leaders mindful of the peace potentials of constitution building? This paper seeks to ascertain the extent to which the citizens were involved in the making of the previous constitutions in Nigeria. It projects the view that the failures of the past attempts and the prevalent identity conflicts in Nigeria are attributable to non-adherence to the basic principles of the indispensable people-oriented process of constitution building.

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Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences ISSN 2039-9340(Print) ISSN 2039-2117(Online)

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