What is a constitution?

The Oxford Advanced Learners’ Dictionary defines constitution as “the system of laws and basic principles by which a state, or country or an organisation is governed by.”

It can also informally be referred to as the written or unwritten “rules of the game” by which the citizens of a state or members of a group must play.

It stipulates how power can be acquired and exercised by any individual or group within the state and contains the rights, privileges, responsibilities, roles, of both the government and individuals in the state.


This is the Supreme Law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, enacted on 29th May 1999 and which launched Nigeria into the Fourth Republic. It is the fourth constitution since the Nigerian Independence from the British Colony in 1960;(SEE THROWBACK: The Motion That Set The Ball Rolling For Nigeria’s Freedom) it is divided into eight(8) chapters and seven(7) schedules, and has altogether 320 sections, though still being modified.

The purpose of this article is to reform the people’s disposition towards the constitution in spurring them to getting their copies of the constitution, and actually flipping through the pages as they discover and/or become very conscious of the provisions of the country’s Supreme Law.

Importance of knowing the constitution

  • No reasonable person will strongly continue to refute with you after you have said “according to the constitution of our country”, that means quoting the law.
  • When you know the constitution you will walk the streets with greater confidence because you can boldly say “I know my right”.
  • The knowledge of the constitution is somewhat self-discovery; for that’s when you realize who you are as a citizen of your state, knowing your rights and liberties, your position and responsibilities, in the society where you belong.
  • Finally, ignoring the constitution is ignoring one’s rights and privileges, and therefore indirectly rendering them ineffective. So we can authoritatively say that if you ignore the constitution, the constitution will ignore you, especially on the rainy day, and vice-versa.

Are you aware that when a person is told “he has the right to remain silent”, on being arrested, he is not being disrespectfully hindered from speaking but that his right as contained in the constitution is what is being stated to him?

Section 35, subsection 2, “Any person who is arrested or detained shall have the right to remain silent or avoid answering any question until after consultation with a legal practitioner or any other person of his own choice”.

Note: When studying the constitution, it is advisable to study in context and get a good understanding of what is being studied so as to avoid shooting oneself in the foot.

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The Nigerian Coat of Arms


The Flag of the Fed. Rep. of Nigeria

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