Nigeria: Looking beyond state creation
BY UBAKA OKOFU
If after 60 years of nationhood, and several state creation regimes to accommodate diverse interests, some sections of the country are still agitating for more states to be created, then something urgent has to be done in restructuring the present unfederal federal government of Nigeria.
To most discerning minds, restructuring seems the only peaceful option to amicably settle all aggrieved parties in the Nigerian project. Perhaps, this is the reason why ex-President Goodluck Jonathan had to convene a national conference in 2014 to find the x of our national problems, especially those that border on national unity, equity and justice.
One is therefore flummoxed that the over 600 resolutions reached in the 10,335 page report produced during the 5 months duration of the national jaw-jaw by over 492 knowledgeable Nigerians drawn from among the six geo-political zones and professional bodies could be allowed to gather dust. It’s imperative to also note that the conference cost the government N9billion, and to thrust aside such valuable document is a clear indication that those in power have no clear understanding of the country they govern other than to see it as a family fiefdom.
Penultimate week, a delegation of Katagum, Missau and Jama’are people, all emirates in Bauchi state paid a courtesy call on DSP. Omo-Agege and other members of the Senate Adhoc Committee on Constitution Review. The import of the visit is not unconnected with a request for a Katagum state which is being proposed to be carved out of the present Bauchi state.
Expectedly, assurances were given to the delegation led by the former secretary to the federal government, Alhaji Yayale Ahmed that their request was feasible, and that all they needed to do was to continue to lobby members of the National Assembly.
However, it would be preposterous for anyone to believe at this uproarious state of our nation that the creation of additional states in North-east or any other part of the country would bring about the much talked about peace, oneness and justice. It’s sad to note that the foregoing had eluded citizens of this country, especially those in the northern part of the country. It is not as if the situation in other parts of the country is encouraging, but the security challenges in the entire northern Nigeria is execrable, and therefore unacceptable!
27years have since gone down the cusp of history after the last six states of Ebonyi, Nasarawa, Zamfara, Gombe, Ekiti and Bayelsa were created in 1993 by late Gen. San Abacha yet, the country is still waist deep in crises. Citizens are more conscious of their region than they were in the 1970s and 1980s. The drumbeats of secession is even deafening! The expectations that partitioning the country into smaller states along the lines of religion, ethnicity and homogeneity have completely failed to address the issues of injustice, nepotism, and the rebellious feeling of being short-change. From to Delta, Kogi, Kaduna and Edo are plethora of reports of balkanization and ethnic hegemony over those considered, and seen as minorities.
Following the creation of states, there has been increase in sprawling urban settlements since 1967 when Gen. Yakubu Gowon abolished the regions and created 12 states instead. The number had also doubled with an additional 7 states by late Gen. Murtala Mohammed in 1976. Gen. Ibrahim Babangida’s 2 new states in 1987, and 9 others in 1991 opened up the rural communities for development.
It’s imperative to note that the creation of additional 11 states by Gen. Ibrahim Babangida in 1987 and 1991 respectively was mainly to address reported cases of marginalization of minority groups by the majority ethnic groups yet, the creation of Ebonyi , Nasarawa , Zamfara , Gombe , Ekiti and Bayelsa did not stymie the agitations for creation of more states.
Unarguably, the air of suspicion for one another, and the fear that Nigeria may break up into fragments led ex President Goodluck to convene a National Conference to deliberate on going forward with the Nigerian projects. Even though part of the recommendations of the conference favour the creation of additional 18 states, restructuring with a view to sustaining the unity of the country was seen as sine qua non.
Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State