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Anioma, the bias, imbalance in states creation – Part 2

By Eric Teniola
27 October 2022   |   2:42 am
An Act of the National Assembly for the purpose of boundary adjustment of any existing State shall only be passed if—- (a) a request for the boundary adjustment, supported by two thirds majority of members ......

National Assembly. Photo/facebook/TopeBrown/NigerianSenate

An Act of the National Assembly for the purpose of boundary adjustment of any existing State shall only be passed if—- (a) a request for the boundary adjustment, supported by two thirds majority of members (representing the area demanding the boundary adjustment) in each of the following, namely—- (i) the Senate and the House of Representatives (ii) the House of Assembly in respect of the area, and (iii) the local government councils in respect of the area, is received by the National Assembly; and (b) a proposal for the boundary adjustment is approved by—- (i) a simple majority of members of each House of the National Assembly, and (ii) a simple majority of members of the House of Assembly in respect of the area concerned”.

Whereas Section 8 of the 1999 Constitution also states that “An Act of the National Assembly for the purpose of creating a new State shall only be passed if a. a request, supported by at least two-thirds majority of members (representing the area demanding the creation of the new State) in each of the following, namely, i. the Senate and the House of Representatives, ii. the House of Assembly in respect of the area, and iii. the local government councils in respect of the area, is received by the National Assembly; b. a proposal for the creation of the State is thereafter approved in a referendum by at least two-thirds majority of the people of the area where the demand for creation of the State originated; c. the result of the referendum is then approved by a simple majority of all the States of the Federation supported by a simple majority of members of the Houses of Assembly”.

You can spot the difference between the provisions of States creation as contained in both 1979 and 1999 Constitution. Although simple in look but impossible to implement. I suspect the military just do not want new states and local government to be created except the ones that they created. Although we have practiced twenty two years uninterrupted democratic rule, we are still carrying out the military dictates. No new states have so far been created, the same goes with local governments.

As a result of the provisions as contained in the 1979 Constitution, President Shagari knew fully that new states may not be created. He then set-up a committee to water down the conditions as contained in the Constitution to make it easier for states and local governments to be created. He involved political leaders and the National Assembly in the committee. He appointed his Vice- President, Dr Alexander Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme GCON (21 October 1932 – 19 November 2017) as the Chairman of the committee.

The committee met at the State House, Ribadu on Tuesday, 23rd February, 1982 and agreed to set up a 17-man Committee under the Chairmanship of the Vice-President of Nigeria to consider the question of creation of States in accordance with the following terms of reference: (i) To consider all papers, memoranda and suggestion made at the meeting of 23rd February, 1982 between the President and the Party Leaders. (ii) To consider the views of all five political parties as submitted in their respective memoranda to the President (iii) To examine Section 8 of the Constitution critically with a view to defining the procedural parameters of the terms “Referendum”, “Request”, and Proposal and other expression contained in the Section; (iv) To examine the issue relating to terms of offices of Office holders (Executive and Legislative) as they affect areas from which new States are to be created; (v) To suggest principles, procedures, mechanics, modalities and time schedule for the creation of States in accordance with the provisions of the constitution and their relation to the terms of reference (i) to (iv) above; and To consider and make recommendations on any other matter relevant to the exercise of creation of new States.

Other members of the committee were Chief Richard Osuolale Akinjide (SAN) Hon. Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Dr Chuba Okadigbo, Special Adviser to the President on Political Affairs; Hon. J.C. Ojukwu, Hon. A.A. Waba, House of Representatives; Hon. Senator Ja’Afar J. Mangga, Hon. Senator Abba Ali, Senate representatives, Senator D.O. Dafinone, Alhaji Idris Ibrahim, NPN representatives Alhaji Musa Musawa, Dr. Ikem Okeke, PRP representatives, Dr. B.N. Ukegbu, and Alhaji Aliyu Ibrahim, GNPP representatives.

The UPN and the NPP did not send representatives.
The inaugural meeting of the Committee took place in the Conference Room in the Office of the Vice-President of Nigeria, on 9th March, 1982. In an opening address, Dr. Alex Ekwueme stressed on the importance of the meeting and the need for the Committee to work hard and evolve procedures in accordance with the Constitution to help the legislature whose duty it was to create new States. He emphasized the need to correct the wrong impression being held by some Nigerians that the effort being made in this regard was to circumvent the provisions of the Constitution.

The Committee then took note of a letter received from the Leader of the UPN, Chief Obafemi Awolowo GCFR stating that his party would not participate in the meeting and deliberations of the Committee. It also took note of another letter from the leader of the NPP, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe GCFR 16 November 1904 – 11 May 1996), stating that the names of their two representatives on the Committee would be forwarded in due course: (Subsequently, another letter was received from the NPP leader confirming that his party would not participate in the meeting and deliberations of the Committee).

Members of the Committee critically examined the terms of reference, their scope and the modalities to be adopted in carrying out the assignment. It was finally agreed that because of the disparate political and legal problem and implications of the relevant terms of reference, two sub-Committees—political and legal—be created to examine closely the issues involved and make recommendations to the main Committee for consideration as its subsequent meetings.

The sub-Committee completed their work and submitted their reports and recommendations to the main Committee for consideration. The legal sub-Committee had the benefit of advice from Prof B.O. Nwabueze, SAN and of draft bills in relation to creation of States by Chief Rotimi Williams, SAN. The main Committee met consecutively from March 23 to 31, 1982, to examine the reports and recommendations of the sub-Committee and to adopt a final position on the various terms of reference to be submitted to President Shagari by 31st March, 1982 as required.

Earlier the House of Representatives met on 21st May, 1980, and passed a resolution for the establishment of a committee on the creation of states.

The following members were appointed Honourables Alhaji Abubakar Tuggar (Chairman), Dr. O.O. Oreh, Sule Ibrahim, J.M. Zuokumor, S.I. Idakwo, Yunusa Folorunsho, T. Sekibo, Umaru Ahmed Shuni, Mrs Abimbola Babatope, T.O. Akinbode, T. Ogunsiji, S.A. Odetoyinbo, Chief M. Nwoseh, E. Ononokpono, S.U. Wanganga, G.B. Wodi, J.Y. Mallo, Idi Mustapha, M.A. Tukur Fagam, Badamasi Yamma, Dr. Gordon Idang and David Gba’aondo.

The Senate also nominated a Conference Committee of twelve Members. They were Senators D.O. Dafinone, A. Muazu, I. Dimis, Hassan Zuru, F.O.M. Atake, D.O.Oke, Adeyiga Ajayi, Onyeabo Obi, E.P. Echeruo, Umaru Lawan Bama and Barkin Zuwo.
The Secretary of the Committee was Dr. Bamidele Adewunmi.

A joint meeting of both houses was held and the list of the members of the House of Representatives was eventually reduced to twelve. The twelve new members were Honourables Abubakar Tuggar, Dr. O.O. Oteh, E. Ojogu, B. Kantoma, Y. Paiko, B.M. Mabrama Jen, Mrs Abiola Babatope, Tunji Abolade, S.M.C. Ihekweazu, M.A. Agbamuche, Sule Abubakar and Hamza Ngajiwa

A joint meeting of the two committees was later held on June 22, 1983. Present were Mr D.O. Enanya—C.O.C. (Senate), Mr. Ladi Falade, Dr. A. Dada—C.O.C. (House of Representatives) and Mr. Bamidele Adewunmi—Committee Clerk. They were all staff of the National Assembly.

The President of the Senate at that time, Dr. Joseph Wayas reminded the Conference of the need to harmonise the conflicting resolutions of both Houses and determine which of the requests for creation of New States should go for Referenda.

In a letter dated December 11, 1980, Senator Ikpo, along with Honourable Chief Martin Nwoseh, Honourable M.A. Agbamuche, Honourable A.N. Iduwe and Honourable G.N. Nwechue, rejected the idea of Onitsha to be part of Anioma state.
Honourable Abubakar Tuggar was then elected the Chairman of the creation of states of the National Assembly.
To be continued tomorrow
Teniola, a former director at the Presidency, wrote from Lagos.

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