Nigeria's proposal for a 37th State: A hit or a miss?

By Momoh, Emmanuel Omeiza
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While Nigeria may not be said to be the best of most developed country in the world, we are of a surety not underdeveloped. This is evident in the avalanche of human, capital and natural resources which nature has made available at our disposal. But going down the memory lane, one will not be wrong to assume that we are plagued and bedevilled by a plethora of infirmities which have been the bane of our underdevelopment, the main one being poor leadership and maladministration. This has continued to be the center piece of many subjects of discourse.

How sad is it that the current crop of Nigerian leaders have little or no knowledge of political leadership. The consequence or resultant effect of this has been the implementation of mediocre plans and projects.

Just when the entire citizenry is trying to catch a glimpse of the reality of things, the government suddenly engages in another jumbo plan. Several examples abound to prove this, the recent being the call to establish a 37th State as captured byThe Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama who noted that the President of Benin Republic, Patrice Talon, had expressed readiness for his country to be part of Nigeria.

One may not be wrong to affirm that Nigeria and Benin Republic could be referred to as sister countries. This is considering the geographical proximities of the country to each other. Notwithstanding, both countries different along certain lines the prime being the language barrier. While Nigeria is a an Anglophone country, Benin Republic on the other hand, is a francophone country.

From close and succinct observations and analysis, what has not been given answers to is whether the call for Nigeria's 37th State is a question of the people or the government? This is of paramount importance especially when considering the complex nature of Nigeria's social, political and economic fabric.

Nigeria as a country gained her independence in 1960. This was sequel to struggles and movements which marked the pre-independence era. From four distinct regions, Nigeria was divided into different components known as States whose figure was out at 36 and a Federal capital territory to serve as the coordinate center for the entire country.

As commonly said that two brothers from the same wombcannot live together without having misunderstandings,Nigeria had at one time or the other has experienced bothinternal and external crisis. To say the least is to say the factthat the aftermath of these crisis are not what can be told onthe pages of paper or spoken in mortal tongues.

The division of the country into States and subsequently Local government and area councils as captured above were the consequences of struggles to give each tribe a voice and a chance to govern themselves within the purview of the law.

But decades down the line, reality of time and events have proven the undisputable fact that the division has done more harm than good. This is evident in the agitations by different ethnic groups to be declared a sovereign nation. Time wouldn't be enough to recount the Biafra agitations, the egbe omo oduduwa and other component groups which has continued almost ad infinitum.

The agitation of each tribe to be declared a sovereign nation has been effectively traced along socio-political lines. This is more so considering the point that some tribal groups are found to be scattered almost in every state. Don't tell me you don't know about the Fulani's who are residing in some north central states like Kwara, Kogi and Benue. What about Yoruba speaking personalities who claim to originate from Jos in Plateau State? I believe there are more instances which Iwouldn't be cite in this piece.

One may then seek to know the essence of calling for an additional State or the motive and rationale of the Republic of Benin to join itself and be declared an additional state even when the ones available seems to be exercising intolerance, abysmal disunity and ethical division which nosedives eventually into conflict and wars with the speedy passage of time.

As tall as Nigeria may be in the community of nation's both at the regional and global level, the conflict and tribal intolerance which seems to be the spot soiling our national government of righteousness has been compounded by our political system of government and administration of which an effort to christen may be regarded as not yielding any fruit.

This is of critical importance as the country continues to lay claim to the practise of democracy even when it is evident that the instrumentality of the law has been set aside and relegated to the background. The result of this has been the lack of respect for morality, justice, equity and fairness and disregard for fundamental human rights. This gives a prompt to the question as to why the Republic of Benin will want to adjoin itself to the Nigerian entity?

By economical standards, the monetary currencies of both nation can be faulted. Both the naira and the CFA (Communauté Financière Africaine) have experienced constant devaluations making them to loose their significance at the international market. What then is the moral justification for the merger of the two countries to create a 37th State for the country. Would we then say that it is due to the geographical closeness of Benin Republic to Nigeria's commercial centre, Lagos?

If the majority of the Beninois would want to align itself with Nigeria on the basis of economic development, then it is should be a welcome development. This should not create an ado or hassle. But merging itself towards creating a sovereign state governed by Nigerian laws will almost seem impossible. Not even St this point in time when the nation is going through crucibles occasioned by large scale unemployment, high cost of living, endemic corruption, tribalism and others. Of what use is the proposal then with all the above challenges that have beguiled our collective existence?

Who is really championing the call for the merger which will be the prelude for the creation of a 37th State? Of what use is the creation of the state? Will it be an added source of revenue orit will be a cudgel to whip out backs collectively?

I think Nigeria must be wary especially now that governance and political administration revolves mainly around elected officials who utilise their positions as a means for exploitation and not collective development. This is most applicable among the entire black race and it may not have been the root causes of attacks and xenophobic crisis across the continent. Or what do you want to interpret as the cause of attacks among Africans in South Africa and more recently in Ghana?

The struggles to make Benin Republic our 37th State without a working guidelines and benchmark will as it were be a jamboree attempt and will further worsen our challenges and upheavals both economical, social and political. The pressure of tribalism, insecurity, and poverty will rather be at a geometric rate.

What is important is to have a working benchmark which harps on our collective existence rather than making attempts to add to the existing challenges by merging different entities together. The sad tales of the era of colonialism where someparts of the country were merged with others continue to resonate on a daily basis. Are we not making attempts already to walk the same lane again?

Our failure to achieve the above recommendation which harps on creating a sustainable environment for all and sundry may be the beginning of the end of our existence. God forbid that! But what if it happens, would we be able to survive?

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Momoh, Emmanuel Omeiza and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."