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THE POLITICS OF STATE CREATION

By NBF News

There is probably no other country in the world where creation of states and local government areas has been given as much prominence and attention as in Nigeria. Quite understandably, the exercise is indeed a quintessential political game used by our erstwhile military rulers to play to the gallery and divert the attention of Nigerians on their demand for return to democracy and to allow the military egg-heads to ride on.

Whenever any military head of state announced an intention to create more states, the populace especially the political group would junket around to mobilize people for a demand for a new state or new local council.

He would appoint a state and local government creation committee to collect memorandum from state seekers, analyze and advise him even though he already knew the new states he would create. State creation is also being orchestrated by powers that be to boost their popularity as well as an addition to their C.V. as part of their achievements while in office.

This is typified by the utterances of the President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria General David Mark (Rtd) who, by his gesticulations, is directly inviting many more requests for state creation. According to him, the more states that are created, the more the governance is brought to the grassroots. In other words, Nigeria can have as many states as are local governments and even more, implying that there would be no end to state creation in Nigeria.

There are well laid down criteria for creating a state including identifiable geographical area, cultural affinity, geographical contiguity, viability adequate population, linguistic similarity etc. Many of the areas being demanded to be carved as a state do not qualify to be a state with the above criteria in mind. Their demand is shrouded in creating a kingdom for their leaders.

The only geo-political zone that needs an additional state as a matter of necessity and priority is the South East zone of the country which has the least number of states among the six geo-political zones and which is being cheated in everything including revenue allocation, representation in National Assembly, ministerial appointment and other federal appointments.

However if equity and fairness are to be maintained each geo-political zone should have a maximum of seven states to bring the total number of states in the country to 42 to end state creation exercise in the country. This will necessitate the expunging of state creation from the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to end the malady. No one has heard how many new states are being created in USA, India, China, Britain or any other African country. Why should state creation be an endless exercise in Nigeria?

The scenario being peddled for a new state is a situation where some local governments would be carved out from three or four adjoining states to create a new state without minding their affinity or cultural background. In some of these cases, there is no demarcation between the new state and the old state and the inhabitants of the proposed new state and old state are so mixed up that some share the same compound. 'It is most ridiculous that in 'N' town with two local government areas to include 'N' south local government in the new state and allow 'N' north local government to belong to the old state.

The new state will not only be doctored or concocted but will make the new state to be a parch-parch state and will breed instability, boundary dispute and crisis. Again the futility of carving out local governments from two or three adjoining states to constitute a new state will as usual lead to sharing of assets of contributing states and movement of public servants who don't even know each other from the old states to the new state and which will create rivalry, favouritism and rancour.

To me a state is worth creating if it could conveniently be carved out from only the existing state without rancour. One area that beautifully and adequately qualifies for a new state although I am not from the area but had worked there as an administrative officer in a local government in the area is Adada State which already has a university town, a burgeoning and sprouting urban town, a mass of fertile agricultural land for production of rice and surplus man power for the running of the governance of the new state.

I can still remember vividly that in 1977 the then head of the federal military government, Major General Olusegun Obasanjo (Rtd) undertook a tour of the area after hearing much of the agricultural potentials of the area to explore the vast agricultural landmass. On the successful conclusion of the tour, he averred that the vast land in Adada area could be turned into the food basket of the nation and this gave rise to the production of Ada rice.

While apologizing for this diversion and specificity, I would confess that I was lured to it as a result of the futility of demand by other state creation hunters. The creation of one additional state in the South East zone is a desideratum which the National Assembly should conclude without qualms. Apart from this any new state created in any other zone will cause disequilibrium and instability in the nation's social-economic milieu.

However if the National Assembly is tempted to play to the gallery and level the zones to seven states each, we shall have additional seven states, which will give rise to the emergence of twenty one new senatorial areas and about forty two federal constituencies and other bureaucratic replications down the line. Each new state would go to the Presidency and National Assembly for fund mobilization to move the administrative and logistic machinery of the new states. The recurrent expenditure of the federal government will rise astronomically with little left for capital work.

The National Assembly is therefore being advised to shun sentiment politicking and over zealousness in handling demand for state creation. Chief ECM Akamobi (FCIB) Economist and Insurance Executive.