Constitutionalism can be defined as the act of following and/or observing laid-down constitutional procedures. It means adherence to a constitutional system of government. It is a political philosophy based on the idea that government authority is derived from the people and should be limited by a Constitution that clearly expresses what the government can and cannot do. It also means, that the authority of government is determined by a body of laws or constitution. And lastly, it is the doctrine that governs the legitimacy of the actions of a government.
Constitutionalism forms the core of good government in the modern democratic world to check on the powers of different organs of government and the protection of liberty and fundamental rights of individuals within that sovereign state. Constitutionalism recognizes the need of limiting concentration of power in order to protect the rights of groups and individuals.
Institutionalization is the action of establishing something as a convention or norm in an organization, society or culture. It is a process of developing or transforming rules and procedures that influence a set of human interactions. It is a process by which a set of activities becomes an integral and sustainable part of a formal system. An example of institutionalization is making it illegal to drive without a seatbelt and announcing the law change through a publicity campaign before the law goes into effect. Institutionalization offers a flexible and comprehensive framework within which to address government efforts to achieve sustainability. It offers an entry point for the study of a policy domain both at times of stability and crisis. Social theorists have considered as vital the following three elements as pillars of institutionalization; the regulatory system, the normative system and the cultural system. The benefits of Institutionalization include effective communication, strengthening of governing bodies, better decisions on strategies and improved outputs.
When we use the term institutionalize, it means to make something become established as part of the normal systems, practices, etc of an organization, society or culture. In Nigeria today, Corruption has become so institutionalized that anyone who operates differently is being viewed as a person from another world, ultimately because corrupt practices have become endemic in our systems.
I am of the view that the problem we have as a nation is not lack or inadequacy of the constitution, rather it is the refusal to adhere strictly to the provisions of the Constitution. Ourleaders tend to choose what part of the constitution that favors their position or stand on issues, but tend to overlook the part that does not support or favour their position. A clear example is the ongoing debate as to the constitutionality or otherwise of the declaration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu by INEC Chairman, Prof. Yakubu Mahmood, as President-elect without meeting the constitutional requirement of securing 25% of votes in the FCT. My stand on this is that it was wrong for the INEC Chairman erred by declaring Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as President-elect without securing the mandatory 25% votes in FCT. Unfortunately, it is only in the hands of the Judiciary to decide the legality or otherwise of the said declaration.
In conclusion, there is need for building of strong institutions based on the rule of law and adherence to laid down rules, such that the position on issues are determined by established rules, and not on who is involved, and this can only be sustained by institutionalizing probity, accountability, respect for one another and rule of law within the ranks of our society through proper Constitutionalism. For only then can the law be said not to look at the face of the person involved but on the facts of the issue and the provisions of the law.
Comrade Igwe Patrick Afubera writes from Abuja.