Saturday, 2nd December 2023

Why new states and councils can’t be created – Part 4

By Eric Teniola
01 September 2023   |   3:33 am
The committee was given four specific terms of reference to advise on the delimitation of such states; advise on economic viability of the proposed states, advise on the location of administrative capitals of the proposed states...

The committee was given four specific terms of reference to advise on the delimitation of such states; advise on economic viability of the proposed states, advise on the location of administrative capitals of the proposed states; and, to receive and examine written representations from individuals, groups, organisations or associations who may have views on the desirability or otherwise of creating states in particular areas.

Justice Ayo Irekefe was born in Ikorodu on March 3, 1922. He attended Church Missionary Society Anglican School, Okitipupa, 1929-1930, St. John’s Catholic School, Okitipupa, 1930-1931, St. Matthew’s Catholic School, Ode-Ondo, 1932-1936, St. Gregory’s College, Obalende, Lagos, 1937-1941, College of Marine Engineering and Telecommunications, Manchester, England, 1945-1946, Council of Legal Education, London, 1949-1952, called to the Bar, Middle Temple, London, 1952.

He was enrolled solicitor and advocate, Supreme Court of Nigeria, 1952; in legal practice, Warri, 1952-1955, crown counsel, Western Region, 1955, later returned to private legal practice, until 1966, attorney-general, Mid-Western Nigeria, 1971, judge, Supreme Court of Nigeria, 1975, later Chief Judge of Nigeria, 1986-1987; chairman, Warri Bar, chairman, Robbery and Firearms Tribunal, Mid -Western State, 1972, chairman, Crude Oil Sales Tribunal, 1981.

Other members of the committee were Professor A.D. Yahaya, A former Head of Department of Political Science and International Studies at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria, Chief Solomon Daushep Lar (4 April 1933 – 9 October 2013) (Walin Langtang), governor of Plateau State between 1979-1983 and pioneer Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party in 1999, Brigadier Godwin Alley, former brigade Commander of Ikeja Cantonment, who was the boss of Major General Shehu Usman Yar’adua GCON (5 March 1943 – 8 December 1997) and also the boss to my friend, Colonel Lawan Gwadabe (rtd), former military governor of Niger State, who served as his ADC.

The other member of the committee was Mr C. Audifferen. The secretary of the committee was Dr. Patrick Dele Cole (83) from Abonnema in Rivers State. Dr. Cole attended St. Bartholomew’s School, Enugu, Baptist High School, Port Harcourt, 1954-1958, Ibadan Grammar School, 1959-1960, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand, 1962-1965, Free University of Amsterdam, Holland, 1966, University of Cambridge, England, 1966-1969; visiting Professor, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA, 1969-1973, also a fellow, King’s College, Cambridge, England, 1970-1973, administrative officer, Political Division, Cabinet Office, 1973-1976, Managing Director, Daily Times of Nigeria, 1976-1980, ambassador to Brazil, 1987-1981; Secretary creation of states panel, 1975-1976, coordinator, Local Government Reforms, 1975-1976, member, Presidential Panel on History of Nigeria since Independence, member, Commonwealth Press Union and member, International Press Institute.

After the submission of Justice Irekefe’s report, General Murtala Mohammed GCFR created nineteen states out of the twelve states created by General Yakubu Gowon GCFR in May 1967.

On assumption to power in 1995, General Ibrahim Babangida GCFR created Katsina and Akwa Ibom states on 23 September 1987 and later increased the number of states to thirty in 1991.

General Sani Abacha met thirty states structure before inaugurating Chief Mbanefo’s committee. After inauguration, Chief Mbanefo set January 19, 1996 as the deadline for the submission of memoranda; thereby his committee received two thousand three hundred and sixty-nine memoranda and two hundred and eighty boundary requests. The members of the committee were Mrs Adefemi Abeke Taire nee Williams, former Secretary to the Lagos State Government, Chief Kunle Oluwasanmi, from Ipetu Ijesha in Osun state.

On December 16 1997, General Sani Abacha GCFR appointed Chief Oluwasanmi, a former Custom Officer to replace Prof. Iorwuese Hagher as minister of State for Power and Steel. The other members also include Mr. El- Nathan from Adamawa State, Alhaji Kofar Katsina, Chief Audu Ogbeh former Minister for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Alhaji Kufobai, Obong Umana O. Umana, General Peter Ademokhai (rtd.), former General officer Commanding First Mechanised Division Kaduna.

Mr Seyi Olowokere from Ilesha in Osun state, who retired recently as Director, Media, Federal Ministry of Labour was attached to the committee as Press officer while Professor Tunji Olaopa, now of the Nigeria Institute of Strategic Studies, Kuru, near Jos, was the head of the Secretariat.

Professor Olaopa who was appointed Permanent Secretary in December 2010, grew up in the school of thought of Professor Ojetunji Aboyade and Chief Simeon Adebo. A quintessential public servant, his latest book, The Unending QuestT for Reform- An intellectual Memoir, is a good read.

Chief Arthur Mbanefo was born on June 11, 1930, in Onitsha, Anambra State. He attended Government School, Ogwashi-Uku, 1937-1939, St. Mary’s School, Port Harcourt, 1940-1941, Christ the King School, Aba, 1942, Practicing School, Uyo, 1943-1944, Government School, Afikpo, 1944-1945, St. Benedict’s School, Ogoja, 1946, St Patrick’s School, Calabar, 1947-1953, Accountancy Studies, England, 1962, Centre for Applied Management and Technology, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, USA, 1965-1966; Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, former Republic of Biafra, 1968-1970, became partner, Akintola Williams and Company, April 1965, also Managing Director, AW Consultants Limited, 1973, Chancellor, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, July 1986; fellow, Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, fellow, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria; member, Nigeria Institute of Management. He later became Nigeria’s ambassador to the United Nations.

After the submission of Mbanefo’s report, six new states were created, Bayelsa, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Gombe, Nasarrawa and Zamfara states, making the total number of states in the Federation to be thirty-six.

In 1976, there were 299 local governments in the country, in September 1991, there were 589 local governments. After the submission of the Mbanefo’s report, they were increased to 774 local governments. The breakdown shows 120 local governments in North Central including Abuja, 111 in the North East, 186 in North West, 95 in South East, 123 in South South and 139 in South West. All in all, there are 417 local governments in the North while the South has local governments. In short the North has 60 more local governments than the South.

To point out the imbalance, in 1979, there were 8 local governments in Lagos State, namely Lagos Island, Lagos Mainland, Shomolu, Mushin, Epe, Badagry, Ikorodu and Ikeja. Now there are 22 local governments in Lagos state in the 1999 Constitution. Namely, Agege, Ajeromi-Ifelodun, Alimosho, Amuwo-Odofin, Apapa, Badagry, Epe, Eti-Osa, Ibeju/Lekki, Ifako-Ijaye, Ikeja, Ikorodu, Kosofe, Lagos Island, Lagos Mainland, Mushin, Ojo, Oshodi-Isolo, Shomolu and Surulere.

In 1979, there were 20 local governments in Kano state. Namely, Kano (Metropolitan), Dambatta, Ringim, Minjibir, Gezawa, Bichi, Dawakin-Tofa, Gwarzo, Tudun-Wada, Rano, Wudil, Dawakin-Kudu, Dutse, Jahun, Birnin-Kudu, Gaya, Hadejia, Keffin-Huasa, Gumel and Kazaure.

Now Jigawa state has been created out of the old Kano state. If we are to add the local governments in Jigawa with the local governments in the present Kano state, then the old Kano state that had 20 local governments in 1979, now has 71 local governments. Because Jigawa state has 27 local governments and Kano has 44 local governments. That is a clear case of
imbalance imposed by the military.

And it was imposed because the military rulers that had created states in the country so far are all from one section of the country. And that is the imbalance we are going to live with.

Since new states will not be created, it will sheer waste of energy and time for the National Assembly to continue to spend money on the pretext of amending the constitution to create more states and local governments.

Don’t let us deceive ourselves, new states will not be created. As per creation of new local governments, state governments can copy the example of Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu when he was the Governor of Lagos state. He created 57 LCDA from the 22 local contained in the 1999 Constitution. The arrangement has worked since 1999 because Chief Tinubu’s party has been in power since then. If another party comes to power in Lagos, that arrangement may not work.

The present 36 states structure in Nigeria and the 774 local governments structure in the country is a military legacy.


Teniola is a former Director at the Presidency, Abuja.