The States Murtala created… 40 years after
It was the 34th day of the year 1976 in the Gregorian calendar.
A recommendation of the panel chaired by Justice Ayo Irikefe just came into reality – Nigeria had been split into 19 states by the regime of General Murtala Muhammed.
It was formally 12 states as created by General Yakubu Gowon whose government then was recently overthrown while he was away at an Organisation of African Unity (OAU) summit in Kampala, Uganda.
Barely seven month after he came to power, General Muhammed announced the creation of Anambra, Bauchi, Benue, Imo, Niger, Ogun and Ondo states with a new Federal Capital Territory located at Abuja. The indigenes of the new states went agog, according to a columnist who wrote about his experience of the day.
The creation of additional seven states was meant to reduce minority problems, accelerate development and provide for a stronger federal structure, Justice Irikefe wrote in the report.
Forty years after the announcement of the new states, it remains uncertain if the goals for which the states were created are achieved.
Speaking at the 40th anniversary of Ogun state, former President Olusegun Obasanjo who was the deputy to General Murtala when Ogun State was created on February 3 1976, and an indigene of the Ogun State, said each governor of the state “has built on the legacy that they have met”. With this statement, President Obasanjo was affirming that Ogun State has developed over time.
Starting from the first governor, Major General (retired) Saidu Ayodele Balogun who established the Ogun State School of Health Technology Ilese-Ijebu and the Ogun state Broadcasting to Corporation (OGBC) on February 2, 1977 to the incumbent governor Ibikunle Amosun who reportedly commissioned 40 projects during the 40th anniversary celebration, the state may have experienced what some indigenes of the states described as “remarkable development” since its creation.
“We have over 100 projects across the state and about 60 have been fully completed. We have selected 40 legacy projects to be commissioned by the President to commemorate the anniversary,” Amosun said during the ceremony.
Projects commissioned include Lagos garage flyover and Phase one of the Folagbade-Ibadan road, both in Ijebu Ode, Sagamu bridge, Oba Erinwole road, Model schools at Ago Iwoye and Ikenne among others.
Former Minister of State for Education, and indigene of Ogun State, Chief Mrs. Iyabo Anisulowo in her comment said the State has experienced tremendous development and it is one of the most developed states in the country.
“The purpose of the creation of the Ogun State is being met; the purpose is to bring government closer to the people.”
But not every indigene thinks the government is close enough. And the reason is not far-fetched.
First, the agitation for further creation of state has not stopped in Ogun State. While the Ijebu people led by the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona wanted a creation of Ijebu State, the Akarigbo of Remo, Oba Michael Adeniyi Sonariwo and his people prefer to have Awolowo State created with Remo as the State capital. Akarigbo’s argument is that Ijebu/Remo remained the only province in Nigeria today, which has not become a state out of the provinces created during the colonial era.
Two, the political division between the people of Yewa, the only Senatorial District that has not produced a governor in Ogun State and other ethnic group appears to be another reason for tension which impacts negatively on the unity of the state.
Ondo State, another state created out of the old Western region alongside Ogun State has been split into two, with Ekiti as the new addition while Osun was created out of old Oyo State.
The pioneer governor of Ondo state, Ita David Ikpeme, a retired Nigerian air force group captain, served between February 1976 and July 1978 and initiated road construction in Akure, the state capital. The first civilian governor of the State, Chief Adekunle Ajasin was said to have made a lot of significant progress to the state.
Speaking during the state broadcast on the anniversary day, the incumbent and the longest serving governor of the state, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko scored the state high in the area of infrastructural development.
“Given the vicissitude of fortunes that Ondo State has witnessed in its 40- year existence so far, I believe, like many indigenes of the state, that we have done well.”
However, the former Speaker of Ondo state House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Victor Adekanye Olabimtan said the fortieth year anniversary is a moment for the people of the state to match the level of development in the state with the huge natural resources and monthly allocation to the state from the federation’s account.
Olabimtan said: “This is not the state we bargained for. The present state of situation in Ondo State underlines the fact that we have only had a government that is insensitive and irresponsive to the yearnings of the people that deceive the masses with its cosmetic programmes and projects.”
Benue, the state with the sobriquet of “Basket Food of the Nation”, was created out of Benue-Plateau State. At creation, the state comprised three local governments in the Tiv-speaking areas, namely Gboko, Katsina-Ala, and Makurdi; one in Otukpo in the Idoma-speaking areas and three (Ankpa, Idah and Dekina) in the Igala-speaking areas, which were excised from Kwara state. The state is named after the Benué River and was formed from the former Benue-Plateau State in 1976, along with Igala and some part of Kwara State. In 1991 some areas of Benué state (mostly Igala area), along with areas in Kwara State, were carved out to become part of the new Kogi State. Present Benue has twenty-three local governments, with the Tiv speaking area having fourteen while the Idoma-Igede area having nine local councils.
In an interview with The Guardian, former NBA chairman in the state, Donatus Zuanah, a lawyer said even as Benue has made tremendous development in the educational sector and human development, much is to be desired in the industrial sector of the state.
Zuanah said it is a sad commentary that Benue which boasts itself as the Food Basket of the Nation does not own any processing factory at the moment.
He advised Governor Samuel Ortom to use his experience in industrial sector to boost the agro-sector in the state.
He wants the government to revive the moribund industries, especially the Argo- allied ones and establish new ones so as to create employment and wealth for the citizens of the state.”
Also, commenting on the backwardness of the state, a social activist and chairman Bengonet, Austin Gbagir decried lack of vision in the Senator George Akume/ Gabriel Suswam’s sixteen years stewardship as governors of the state.
He said, though the two administrations had good and wonderful development documents but could not implement them to uplift the state.
Gbagir lauded the first civilian governor of the state, Aper Aku and Moses Adasu for their sound initiative to develop the state.
He cited key development initiative like Ikyogen Cattle Ranch, Taraku Mills, Makurdi Sheraton Hotel etc, which Aku started, but which the successive government abandoned only to patronized Obudu Resort thereby draining the huge resources of the state.
The social activist urged governor Ortom to strategise quickly on how best to move the state forward.
Meanwhile, governor Ortom while fielding questions from journalists on the 40th anniversary said he would not allow the state to be “a fool at forty” but will do everything possible to turn around the fortunes of the state.
Imo State, the Eastern heartland, was first governed by Ndubuisi Kanu a naval officer between March 1976 and 1977 and was later transferred to become governor of Lagos State. He was succeeded at Imo by Adekunle Lawal, and later Sunday Ajibade Adenihun. The first civilian governor of the state was Samuel Mbakwe who earned the nickname “the weeping governor” for crying while trying to convince the federal government to pay more attention to his state.
The first occasion of his famed tears was the Ndiegoro flood in Aba, which was then a part of Imo State. He had invited President Shehu Shagari to witness the destruction done by the floods, and it was said that he was moved to tears while conducting the president around the disaster area.
While the administration of Mbakwe centred on infrastructural development in the old Imo state with industries, roads construction as well as human capital development. He was known to have built lots of industries in Imo-state which included poultry, flour mills, glass industry, aluminium industry, resin and paint factory but unfortunately his predecessors could not maintain industries today as Imo state is no more counted as industrial state.
Udenwa’s slogan was “Redemption”, Ohakim’s was “New Face” of Imo and Okorocha touts “Rescue Mission” as his mantra.
The Commissioner for Information, Youth and Sports, Jude Ejiogu, said about 400 capital projects was commissioned during the celebration. The Guardian could not confirm this claim before publication.
Anambra is a state in the Southeastern Nigeria. Its name is an anglicized version of the original ‘Oma Mbala’, the native name of the Anambra River. The capital and seat of government is Enugu.
The state’s theme is “Light Of The Nation”.
Boundaries are formed by Delta State to the west, Imo State and Rivers State to the south, Enugu State to the east and Kogi State to the north. The origin of the name is derived from the Anambra River (Omambala), which is a tributary of the River Niger.
The first Military administrators of Anambra State was John Atom Kpera (March 1976 to July 1978) while the first civilian governor was Jim Nwobodo. Governor Christian Onoh of the NPN succeeded him in October 1983 to December 1983 before the military intervention in December. As governor, Nwobodo established the Nike Lake hotel, Anambra State television, Anambra State University of Science and Technology, Nnamdi Azikiwe University (NAU), the Ikenga Hotels, the Nnamdi Azikiwe stadium, Eha Amufu College of Education, Nsugbe College of Education and the Nkalagu Cement industry among other projects.
The incumbent governor, Willie Obiano has been praised for launching operation zero tolerance of pot-holes in Anambra State roads, saying that the policy have beautified Anambra roads.
Niger State was formed when the then North-Western State was split into Niger State and Sokoto State. The state capital is Minna, and other major cities are Bida, Kontagora, and Suleja. The State’s first governor was Navy Commander Murtala Nyako who later became the governor of Adamawa. Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe succeeded him.
The state is named after the River Niger. Two of Nigeria’s major hydroelectric power stations, the Kainji Dam and the Shiroro Dam, are located in the state. The immediate past governor of the state, Babangida Aliu declared free education up to secondary school level in the state for the people resident in the state regardless of their ethnicity.
He also paid WAEC NECO and NABTEP registration fees and offered scholarships regularly to students of the state studying in various Tertiary institutions across the country.
Governor Abubakar Sani Bello of the APC is the current governor of the state. The governor has been reported to begin the construction of Sabon-Gari – UK Bello road, Kuta road, Bomas/Obasanjo road, Bosso/Yahaya Bawa Bosso road,Tegina township road among others.
The last but not the least of the state created by General Muhammed was Bauchi State with headquarters located in the city of Bauchi. What is now known as Bauchi was until 1976 a province in the then North-Eastern State of Nigeria. During the colonial era up to independence, it formed part of the Bauchi Plateau of the then Northern Region, until the 1967 state creation exercise, when the Bauchi, Borno, and Adamawa provinces constituted the former North-Eastern State.
It originally included the area now in Gombe State, which became a distinct state in 1996. According to the 2006 census, the state has a population of 4,653,066.
Since 1976, the state has gone through tremendous transformation over the years. The Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University is located in the capital city Bauchi.
The number of local government areas in the then Bauchi State was increased to 20 and later to 23. However, in 1997 when Gombe State was created out of Bauchi and additional local governments were created in the country, Bauchi State was left with 20 local government areas. The first governor was Mohammed Kaliel. The state adopted Sharia law adopted in June 2001.Some of the developments that has happened to the state include the construction of State University Teaching hospital, college of agriculture, Yankari Game Reserve, Bauchi international airport among others.