Nigeria's new military leaders have taken a major stride towards returning the country to civilian rule by formally opening the work of a fifty man committee to draft a new constitution.
GV & SV Sign "Nigerian Institute of International Affairs" (2 shots)
SV Muhammed arriving and greeted by Chief Williams goes into building as newsmen watch (3 shots)
SV INTERIOR Kano seated
SV Muhammed speaking while delegates watch
TRANSCRIPT: SEQ. 4: MUHAMMED: "In my National Day broadcast I outlined the political programme of the Federal Military government and prescribed measures necessary for achieving the aims of the programme. One of such steps whose responsibility it would be to produce an initial draft of a constitutional arrangement which would provide a sound basis for the continued existence of a united Nigeria. This is not the first time of course that we as a people have participated in the fashioning of a constitution for our country. First there was the experiment of a unitary government which was imposed by the colonial government then a federal system which carried us into independence and finally a modified version of Federalism which lasted rather tenuously until January 1966."
Initials BB/0100 TA/DW/BB/0110
Part of Brigadier Muhammed's speech at the opening of the commission is on film. A transcript appears below.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Nigeria's new military leaders have taken a major stride towards returning the country to civilian rule by formally opening the work of a fifty man committee to draft a new constitution.
The country's Head of State Brigadier Murtala Muhammed named the panel of former politicians, lawyers, intellectuals, businessmen and journalists who will drew up the constitution after his recent speech promising the country a return to democratic rule in October 1979. He also made the speech at the opening on Saturday (18 October).
Top Nigerian lawyer Chief Rotimi Williams who has played a part in writing most of Nigeria's earlier constitutions, is chairman of the committee but Chief Obafemi Awolowo an eminent Nigerian politician and lawyer failed to turn up at the meeting. He had earlier refused to serve on the committee saying his appointment was made without prior reference to him.
The drafting of the new constitution is the first stage of the government's planned four year political programme.
Brigadier Muhammed has pledged himself to reducing the corruption which he felt existed under former Head of State General Gowon's regime. Many Nigerians were hoping for an earlier date than October 1979 for the return of civilian rule but the commitment to a definite date and the work programme set out for the transition period appear to have reduced the degree of disappointment.