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The Convener, Board of Trustees and entire Membership of Umu Anioma Foundation wish to promptly react to statements credited to General Ibrahim Gbadamasi Babangida on the on-going moves by different groups within Nigeria to actualise their yearnings for the creation of more states. It is no longer a secret that Umu Anioma Foundation is the vanguard movement for the actualisation of the creation of Anioma State as the 37th instant in the Nigerian Federation. To this end, we wish to set the records straight in order to prevent General Babangida and others of his ilks from throwing a spanner in the wheel of progress through what appears to be a diversionary tactic. To wit, General Babangida, as quoted by the Vanguard Newspaper, as having declared:

"I feel that right now we do not need to create more states. Everybody has a state with each state running its own systems within the democratic framework. What we need is more peace in the states."

Contrary to Babangida's views, States creation is far from settled. As a matter of fact, about the most urgent matter requiring immediate attention in order to redress the geo-political imbalance plaguing this country is states creation. It goes without saying that this imbalance has been fuelled over the years by the perpetuation of military interventionism in the Nigerian polity. Of course, it becomes, therefore, quite a posit that the least credible Nigerian to point the way forward on this matter is a man widely reputed to have thwarted the Nation's political compass through military dictatorship.

Nigeria and Nigerians have made significant improvements over the past few years since the return to democracy. The citizens are, therefore, no longer in the mood to be teleguided by reactionary forces whose aim is to construct snares for the purpose of entangling them. Umu Anioma Foundation hereby boldly encourages our elected leaders to continue to build on the strength of democratic ideals, where the people are free to express their views and beliefs; having intelligent debates and contributions on how we can solve Nigeria's complex problems.

Umu Anioma Foundation believes that General Babangida is entitled to his views on any matter, including states creation, even as Nigerians are piqued that he robbed them of the opportunity to actualise their dreams in this regard during his dictatorship. Nonetheless, we believe that Babangida's submissions on this matter are very misguided and pregnant with evil. By his public utterance, General Babangida has clearly refused to recognize that Nigeria is now a democracy where her people are free to express what they want from their government without fear of intimidation and harassment, coupled with oppressive measures to suppress the `will' of the Nigerian populace.

Umu Anioma Foundation implores General Babangida to review the evidence available on states creation and withdraw his statement. Undoubtedly, it is overwhelmingly conclusive, judging by the pulse of the Nation, that more states are needed to address the imbalance created by years of political corruption, at the helm of which General Babangida presided to the detriment of the masses.

He talks about zoning as a potential remedy for the imbalance in Nigeria. Well, the facts speak loud in this regard. Zoning arrangement in Nigeria today has not yielded the required economic growth and infrastructural development to date. We sincerely believe that states creation will, in no small measure, address the balance of power, economic and infrastructural development for different ethnic groups. Grassroots development is the in-thing! We all know that ethnic tensions are rife in Nigeria and joining `strange' cultures and ethnicities only helps to aggravate tension while promoting insecurity. Umu Anioma Foundation and other well-meaning Nigerians believe that states creation would significantly reduce and discourage these complex problems.

By virtue of his political tuff, Babangida is, no doubt, an elder statesman, but he appears to be seeking undue redemption from self-debasement, having left Nigeria worse off, after his military dictatorship. Only recently, he shocked the youths of this country out of their wits by declaring that they have no future. What a man! For all intents and purposes, Babangida should know that states creation matter, is not the right vehicle to convey him back into political reckoning. Umu Anioma Foundation strongly advises him to channel his energy, as an elder statesman, into fighting corruption and its attendant effects as Nigerians are still suffering the direct consequences of corruption and the infamous `419' generated and fanned by the Babangida administration. The gross imbalance prevalent in this country today is the brainchild of the military-engendered corruption. Contrary to his opinion, we believe that zoning political offices is, by no means, a solution to this malady.

General Babangida must, at this time, learn to start respecting the wishes of Nigerians and refrain from interfering with the due process of democracy. He must allow the people to ventilate their views, especially through their elected representatives.

It bears repeating here the fact that states creation stands to stamp out the present friction among heteregenuous entities currently entangled in some form of political vendetta as various units feel cheated out of the scheme of things through politics of exclusion. This fire must not be fuelled with a self-serving image-laundering campaign by the General.

We wish Babangida a happy 70th Birthday celebration in advance and hope that at 70, he will begin to have the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians as a paramount concern rather than continuously trying to hold sway against the wishes of Nigerians. We also hope that he joins the administration of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to address the issues of safety and security, epileptic supply of electricity, non-availability of portable drinking water, teeming youth unemployment and a host of others with a view to finding permanent solutions. In addition, we urge him to use his wisdom and knowledge of the problems that Nigerians have suffered under him and other past leaders to now make right, the various wrongs of the past.

The images of the modern day Pharaoh, Egypt's former President, Hosni Mubarak being wheeled into court in a cage with his two sons and being tried for attempting to crush his people's peaceful demonstrations, frankly, is what General Babangida ought to be concerned about. As the power pyramid is being turned upside down in Egypt and across the Arab world; one can only hope and pray that our time will come soon.

On ANIOMA Nigeria's 37th state WE STAND.

God bless Umu Anioma Foundation
Long live the proposed Anioma State!
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria

Joe Illoh
Co-Chairman, Umu Anioma Political Advisory Committee

Lauretta Onochie
Publicity Secretary, Umu Anioma Worldwide.

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