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Anioma, the bias, imbalance in states creation – Part 3

By Eric Teniola
28 October 2022   |   3:34 am
In all the committee received so many requests. Among the requests were for the creation of new Anambra state to be made up of Anambra, Awka, Idemili, Ihiala, Njikoka, Onitsha, Nnewi and Aguta; Ebonyi—Ishielu, Ikwo, Ezza, Afikpo, Ohasara and Abakaliki.

In all the committee received so many requests. Among the requests were for the creation of new Anambra state to be made up of Anambra, Awka, Idemili, Ihiala, Njikoka, Onitsha, Nnewi and Aguta; Ebonyi—Ishielu, Ikwo, Ezza, Afikpo, Ohasara and Abakaliki. Bauchi state to made up of Gombe state (Akko, Tangale-Waja, Dukku and Gombe) and Katagum (Shira, Katagum, Gamawa, Misau and Jama’re); Cross River to be made up of New Cross River State—Calabar Municipality, Akampa, Obubra, Ikom, Ogoja, Odukpani, Obudu and Oron. Bendel State to be made up of Anioma State (Ika, Oshimili, Aniocha and Ndokwa) and Delta State(Bomadi, Burutu, Ethiope, Isoko, Okpe, Ughelli and Warri). Gongola State to be made up of Taraba State (Wukari, Jalingo, Takum, Bali, Sardauna, Karim, Lamido, Ganye, Maye an Gamadiyo Districts of Numan LGA Zing, Jereng (Part of Mayo Belwa LGA). Imo State to be made up of Abia Sate (Aba, Obioma Ngwu, Ukwa, Isiala Ngwa, Arochukwu, Ohafia, Bende, Ikwuano/Umuahia and Isuikwuato District, Afikpo, Ohoazara; Aba State (Aba, Isiala Ngwa, Obioma Ngwu and Ukwa and Njaba (As in the request). Kaduna State to be made up of Katsina- Daura, Dutsinma, Katsina, Kankia, Mani, Malumfasi and Funtua; New Kaduna—Zaria, Ikara, Samnaka, Kachia, Jema’a, Birnin Gwari ans Kaduna LGA; Ondo State to be made up of New Ondo State(Akoko North, Akoko South, Akure, Idanre/Ifedore Ifesowapo, Ikale, Ese Odo/Ilaje, Ondo and Owo.

Others are Oyo State to be made up of New Oyo (Ogbomoso, Oyo, Ifedapo, Iseyin,Kajola Irepo Iwo) and Oshun State (Ede, Ejigbo, Ifelodun, Ila, Irepodun, Irewole, Odo Otin, Osogbo, Iwo and Ogbomoso); Rivers State to be made up of Port Harcourt State (Port Harcourt City, Tai Eleme LGA, Bori LGA Excluding Odual Community, Ikwere, Etvhe and Ahoada; Sokoto State to be made up of Zamfara (Talata Mafara, Anka, Gumni, Maradun, Gusau, Chafe, Kaura/Namoda Zurmi, Isa, Zuru and Sakaba/Wasagu LGA) and Kebbi State (Arewa Dendi, Argungu, Baguda, Bunza,Gwandu, Jega, Koko/Besse, Sakaba/Wasagu, Yauri and Zuru. Kano State to be made up of Jigawa State (Birni-Kadu, Dutse, Gaya, Gwara, Sumaila and Wudil; Lautai State (Ringim, Kaugama, Garki, Gumel, Maitagari, Hadeija Keffin-Hausa and Birniwa), Ghari(Kazaure, Bichi and Dambatta) and Tiga State (Bebeji, Gwarzo, Rano, Tudun Wada and Rogo. Borno State to be made up of Gujba State( Damaturu, Fune, Gujba, Biu, Fika, Bade and Kaga) and New Borno( Askira-Uba, Bama, Damboa, Gwoza, Konduga, Maiduguri Metropolitan, Monguno and Ngala. Plateau State to be made up of Nassarawa/Middle Belt State (Lafia, Akwanga, Keffi, Nassarawa and Awe). Benue State to be made up of Kogi State (Kogi, Bassa, Okehi, Okene, Dekina and Idah); Okura State(Ankpa, Bassa, Dekina, Idah, Ofu and Omalla) and New Benue (As in the Request)

That was the situation until Major General Muhammadu Buhari GCFR took over power on December 31st, 1983. He did not create new states or new local governments. His priority then was to pursue a war on indiscipline and corruption. The war turned futile.

General Ibrahim Babangida GCFR took over from Major General Buhari. And on September 23, 1987, he created Akwa Ibom and Katsina states.

On August 27, 1991, the same General Babangida created Abia, Enugu, Delta, Jigawa, Kebbi, Osun, Kogi, Taraba and Yobe states. On October 1, 1996, General Sani Abacha GCFR (20 September 1943-8 June 1998), created Ebonyi, Bayelsa, Nasarawa, Zamfara, Gombe and Ekiti states, making it thirty-six states which we now have in the country.

If you observe, the new states created by General Babangida and General Sani Abacha were part of the requests submitted to Dr Ekwueme’s committee and Alhaji Abubakar Tuggar’s committee of 1982 and 1983 respectively.

The Abubakar Tuggar’s committee recommended that “We are convinced that the most sensible and stable approach to propose the creation of New States in Nigeria is to ensure that parity and equity do play a dominant role. Thus, new States proposed in the former Western Nigeria must be at par or equitably numbered if compared with those proposed in the former Eastern Nigeria. Similarly states in the former Northern should as far as possible be at par or equitably proposed with states in both former Eastern and Western Nigeria put together”.

The overriding criteria for all political and administrative reorganisations during the colonial era were administrative convenience and a reduction in the cost of administration. It is hardly surprising that in 1954 when Nigeria became a full fledged Federation, the country had only three large regions with one of them larger and more populous than the rest of the Federation put together. In addition, each of the three Regions presented a dual personality. Instead of being a homogenous political unit, each consisted of a “Regional nucleus” occupied mostly, by a dominant ethnic group—the Yorubas in the West, the Ibos in East, and the Hausa-Fulanis in the North—with a peripheral zone occupied by various minority ethnic groups. The cumulative disastrous effect of this unusual political structure on the country’s fragile Unity and Stability can hardly be over-estimated and or anticipated.

Indeed it had often been argued that the imbalanced in the Nigeria Political structure during the first Republic not only made continuous political crisis inevitable but more importantly prompted the various minority groups in the country to agitate for their own States. What is more, the ill-fated Federal structure which rested on a theory of Regional Security and autonomy, as well as the socio-economic imbalance in the political system prevented the emergence of a broadly-based political consensus and clearly perceived national objectives. Consequently the issue of State Creation became a nagging problem that plagued this Nation from its very inception.

The movements for the creation of states in Nigeria can be traced back to 1937 when Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, GCFR (16 November 1904 – 11 May 1996), advocated in his book “THE POLITICAL BLUEPRINT OF NIGERIA”, a Federal form of government for the country and the division of the country into eight constituent units based on geographical configuration. Dr. Azikiwe was later joined by Chief Obafemi Jeremiah Oyeniyi Awolowo GCFR (6 March 1909-9 May 1987) who, in a book, “PATH TO NIGERIA FREEDOM” published in 1947, proposed a redivision of Nigeria into ten Federating units with ethnic, linguistic and cultural affinity as the basis of division.

However, Chief Awolowo’s writing in 1966 seemed to have modified his stand when he shifted ground and advocated a redivision of the country into eighteen states—-nine in the North and nine in the South based on linguistic and cultural affinity as well as economic viability of States in the Federation.

However on May 1, 1967, at a meeting of Western Region Leaders of thought at Ibadan, the same Chief Obafemi Awolowo advocated the creation of COR state—-to be made of Calabar, Ogoja and Rivers state. “There is urgent need for the creation of COR state by decree which will be backed if need be by the means of force”.

Increased agitation by various minority ethnic groups for their own states in which they would feel safe from domination by the ethnic groups prompted the British Government in September 1957 to appoint the Minorities Commission, with Sir Henry Willink as Chairman to——ascertain facts about minorities in Nigeria and propose means of allaying the fears, advise what safeguards could be provided in the Constitution, recommend, though only as last resort, the Creation of States specifying the areas to be included in such States evaluating their economic and administrative viability and ascertaining what effect the creation of New States would have on existing States and on the Federation and examine the question of revising the boundaries of existing Region.

The exercise for the creation of states was first carried out by General Yakubu Gowon on May 5, 1967 when he created twelve states out of the four regions we had then. Namely Western Region, Eastern Region, Mid-Western Region and Northern Region. He created North Western state, North Eastern state, Kano state, North Central state, Benue/Plateau state, Kwara state, Western state, Lagos state and Mid Western state.

On February 3, 1976, General Murtala Ramat Muhammed (8 November 1938-13 February 1976) created additional seven states to make it nineteen states. They are Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Imo, Niger, Ogun and Ondo states.

In effect only four military rulers have created states in Nigeria. Namely General Yakubu Gowon (88), General Murtala Muhammed (8 November 1938-13 February 1976), General Ibrahim Babangida (81) and General Sani Abacha (20 September 1943-8 June 1998).

I do not know whether new states will be created with the provisions as contained in the Constitution. The present thirty-six states structure in Nigeria is biased and partial. Even the present 774 local government structure is worse. It is prejudiced. Lopsidedness is a better word.

Concluded

Teniola, a former director at the Presidency wrote from Lagos.