9 November 2008

Nigeria: States Creation-the Agitation, the Obstacles

Senate President David Mark

Even before the agitators for states creation are availed the opportunity to submit their demands to the National Assembly, Senator Jubril Aminu (PDP, Adamawa) already had dismissed their dreams, insisting that under the present democratic dispensation and in view of the constitutional requirements, it would be difficult for the legislators.Since the attainment of self-rule from the British colonialists about 48 years ago, the creation of additional states has always been the preserve of military governments. Besides the creation of the mid-west region by the Tafawa Balewa Government, an attempt by the Shagari Administration in the early 80s met with a brick wall, following the military coup of 1983. It was on record that more than 50 requests for additional states were received in the Second Republic. The military years were characterised by states creation exercises. General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida expanded the previous 19-state structure to 21 states, with Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom created. General Abacha was later to follow the trend, bringing the states to 36 states. With the plan by the National Assembly to embark on yet another constitutional review, agitators for new states are beginning to dust their files of requests. Despite comments from Senator Jubril that agitators should not be too hopeful, agitators are confident that they can pull through the process which some Nigerians are describing as an 'impossible feat.'

Apa State From Hir Joseph, MakurdI For the Idoma- Speaking people of Benue State, the creation of Apa State will bring to an end what they call "structural imbalance." The agitation resurfaced with the proposed constitutional amendment agenda of Senate President David Mark whose campaign promise to the people was that his return to the Senate a third time will give them the long sought Apa State. Activities for the renewed agitation peaked last Wednesday, after three failed attempts. The people comprising the Idomas, Igedes and other nationalities inhabiting Benue South, met in Makurdi and spoke with one voice for the realization of an almost two decade dream. Gathering under the auspices of "Movement for the Creation of Apa State (MOCAS)," the agitators paid a courtesy visit on Governor Gabriel Tor-Suswam to register their activities, told a press conference later in the day that the movement has the support of various divides in the country. Mr. David Attah, former chief press secretary to former Head of State Abdulsalami Abubakar acknowledged that the past struggle failed to attract the support of all the people of the area, particularly the minority Igedes who have always felt marginalised during any political arrangement with the majority Idoma and said the renewed agitation is now enjoying the support of everybody. He assured that there is no disunity this time, hence the presence of top Igede opinion leaders in the various committees set up for the purpose of the struggle. The demand for the creation of Apa State may not be unconnected with the non-realisation of the Idoma man to occupy the Makurdi Government House.

Ndadoma state

From Ayegba Israel Ebije, Minna

As the call for state creation reaches crescendo all over Nigeria, the quest for the creation of Ndadoma state from Niger may be hanging on a pendulum as opinion among agitators from Nupe extraction begin to vary.

Danladi Musa who is from Bida area of Niger state says that Nupe people account for a large majority of the people demanding the new state, adding that they have not played keys role in running the affairs of the state as it is obtained in other states of the federation where majority always rule. He said for far too long, the Nupe people have watched events, insisting that having a state of their own was not asking too much.

He said there was nothing wrong in having a state with people from one ethnic group, maintaining that it will engender brotherliness and a more focused development projectile that has never been experienced before in the North.

A prominent member of the All Nigeria Peoples Party, (ANPP), Alhaji Abdulkadir Nafuntua, disagreed, insisting that any demand for state creation should not be based on ethnicity

Ogoni State

By Musa Simon Reef

The demand for the creation of Ogoni State has been a long standing struggle and the agitation for the resource control by the minority groups in the Niger Delta with a distinct minority tribe and with an estimated population of 2.3 million, the Ogonis are demanding for a state they can call their own.

The struggle for the control of the resources of the area resulted in the killing Ken Saro Wiwa, a reputable writer and international figure by the military regime of General Sani Abacha. Though the Ogoni people are yet to join the clarion call for state creation, Sunday Trust reliably gathered that they would soon be in the vanguard to demand a state for their own.

According to a petition earlier posted on the internet to justify the creation of a state for the oil rich ethnic group, it said, "owing to Ogoni minority status, its resources is always controlled by those from the majority tribes while its environment and people's rights are violated by the multi-national oil firms (Shell, Chevron, Total, etc) that explore oil in the area. In seeking justice and defending these Rights for the Ogoni people, Ken Saro-Wiwa and Eight other Ogoni leaders were judicially executed in 1995 by Nigeria's military government in alliance with the Shell oil."

Having highlighted the problems of the people, the petition concluded by declaring that, "In view of the above, we DEMAND an OGONI STATE from the Federal Government of Nigeria for the Ogoni people in fairness for our contributions and economic viability to Nigerian and in the belief that it is a genuine method to resolve the prolonged yearnings of our people, and the crisis in Nigeria's Niger Delta. Ogoni students and people are not opposed to other viable groups seeking same for their people."

One state from the East?

At the defunct National Political Reforms Conference whose entire recommendations were jettisoned due to the third term agenda, the agitation for an additional state for the East had reached a crescendo. Last week, Governor Ohakim of Imo State warned the people to be united in the struggle for an additional state from Imo. He was speaking against the backdrop of the disunity tearing the state apart.

At present, the region is yet to mobilise efforts for the realisation of the state. But as the National Assembly gets set to commence constitutional amendments, the issue of state creation may attract the attention of the East that has never grown weary of crying against marginalisation it has suffered from the Nigerian state.

There have been demands for the creation of Adada, Orlu/Njaba or Aba state. Others have called for the creation of Orashi state. It is to be expected that in the coming months, other groups may join the bandwagon for the agitation of state creation.

Ibadan State

From Yemi Bamidele, Ibadan

The clamour for the creation of Ibadan State out of the present Oyo State was at its height penultimate Tuesday when more than 100 elders of Ibadan land stormed the National Assembly in Abuja, fully armed with avalanche of documents and maps to justify the long-standing demand for the proposed state.

The delegation, among them Senate Leader Folarin gave statistical evidence to support the viability of the proposed State which they said would comprise the eleven Local Government areas within Ibadan land as well as some part of Ibarapa area while the population of the proposed state stands at 2.5 million, about half the population of the present Oyo State. Specifically, the proposed state is to be comprised of about half of the present Oyo South Senatorial District and equally about half of the present Oyo Central Senatorial District. They also argued that Ibadan deserves a State because in terms of human resources, the proposed state had adequate manpower to man all its services.

Tracing the demand for Ibadan State to the early nineties, they declared: "We like to state that this is not the first time we are making this demand. Indeed, our demand dated back to 1991, when we first presented our request to the then Military Government. We did not succeed. In 1996, we renewed the request with the Memorandum we presented to the Mbanefo Panel, Again, Ekiti State, and not Ibadan State was created from the South West. During the current democratic dispensation, we presented our memorandum to the National Assembly in 2003, to the National Political Reform Conference in 2005, and another one in 2006. Now that the National Assembly, in its wisdom, is desirous of amending the constitution, we sincerely hope that the creation of additional states will be on the agenda of the current National Assembly; hence we are making our aspirations known to the National Assembly through the auspices of your esteemed office. In terms of human resources, the proposed state has adequate manpower to man all its services. We make bold to claim that currently, in terms of number, the Ibadan, as a sub-ethnic Yoruba group of the South West, has the largest number of youths in all strata of education. It is our goal and we strongly believe that this is achievable, that our IGR should be enough to pay the salaries, allowances and other overheads of the new state."

Senate Leader, Senator Folarin who told the gathering that his primary constituency had given him the mandate to work for the creation of Ibadan State out of the present Oyo State, remarked that similar agitations for creation of states are noticeable in virtually all the geo-political zones of the country. He then stressed the need for collaboration within the polity to make the dream a reality. To underscore the need for Ibadan State, he maintained that, "it is historically one of the very few colonial administrative provinces that have not been conferred with the status of a state till date."

"In terms of population, the 11 local governments of Ibadan land rank comfortably with the population of many of the present 36 states. These are compelling reasons driving the agitation for Ibadan State. I am aware that many of my colleagues in the National Assembly have similar mandates from their people to agitate for the creation of their own states so that development can come to their door steps," he had submitted while tasking his fellow lawmakers at the National Assembly to rise up to the challenges of new states creation in the interest of justice and fairness "to further promote the development of these areas in particular and Nigeria in general."

Southern Kaduna State

From AbdulRaheem Aodu, Kaduna

Formerly called Southern Zaria under the then Zaria District (which runs into current day Plateau and Nasarawa states) during the era of colonial administration era, the Southern Kaduna District comprises 10 out of the current 23 local government areas in the state. These are Chikun and Kajuru local government areas within Kaduna Central Senatorial Zone and Jema'a, Jaba, Zangon Kataf, Kaura, Sanga, Kagarko, Kachia and Kauru local government councils in Southern Kaduna Senatorial Zone.

The Southern Kaduna people's agitation for the creation of a state is reportedly premised upon inadequacies of the current configurations such as poor development, lack of leadership opportunities and inability to fully access dividends of democracy among others. They are particularly irked that despite being an integral part of the state, they are yet to produce a governor or speaker of the state's house of assembly.

The agitations variously called Gurara State and Southern Kaduna State, have however failed to materialise as it were jettisoned in 1987 and 1995/96 when the agitation for Gurara State was considered but later jettisoned due to bickering, disunity and disagreement over the location of the capital among other parochial interests. Since then it has become an utopian task as new leaders have turned deaf ear to the issue of state creation.

Moreover the bid has failed to find a rallying point considering that elites have continued to pay lip service to the agitation in pursuit of personal aggrandisement.

Former Governor of Kaduna State, Mr James Bawa Magaji ,also echoed the same sentiment when he spoke with Sunday Trust in Kaduna. "Creation of states is very good and I supported the creation of a new Kaduna State. As a bridge builder, I do not believe in defeatist tendencies.

Kaduna is the third largest state in the country with a population that triples that of other states which explains the need to have it divided into two for easier administration, growth and development of the state."

Savannah State

By Musa Simon Reef

The diverse ethnic groups in Southern Borno are also rooting for the creation of Savannah State. The request is from nine local government areas comprising Askira/Uba, Bayo, Biu, Chibok, Damboa, Gwoza Hawul, Kwaya-Kusar and Shani. Besides ensuring equal opportunities and expanded frontiers for political participation, the agitators for the creation of Savannah State are prominent indigenes of Borno State.

When last week the movement placed a newspaper advert on the people behind the movement, it was very obvious that the northern minorities of the North east are irrevocably committed to a state of their own. Leading the movement is Senator Omar Hambagda, all the five emirs from the zone and all chairmen of the nine local governments, among others.

Apart from the political relegation that has been their lot, promoters of the Savannah State are of the belief that the creation of the state will usher in abundant political and economic potentials for the people. For now, the southern part continues to be the intellectual fulcrum but still suffer from lack of leadership opportunities. National Publicity of the movement, Inuwa Bwala, told Sunday Trust that in view of the tremendous support received from prominent indigenes of the area, the prospects for a new state may just turn out to be a reality.

Katagum State

From Muhammad Abubakar, Gombe

The people of Katagum, Jama'are and Misau emirates in present day Bauchi state are among those clamouring for a state of their own. The Movement for the Creation of Katagum State has been in existence since the early 1980s during the Second Republic. Both Katagum in the Northern part of Bauchi state and Gombe on its eastern part were agitating for state creation since the 1980s. Gombe was luckier and was made a state during the regime of the late Military Head of state, General Sani Abacha on October 1st, 1996.

The clamour for an additional state from Bauchi recently received a boost from Governor Isa Yuguda, who set up a committee for the creation of Katagum State in July, 2008. The 16-member committee has the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Wamban Katagum, Alhaji Aminu Sale, as chairman and Barrister Bako Abdullahi, as secretary.

The committee's terms of reference include, among others, to justify the demand for the creation of Katagum state out of Bauchi state; liaise with national and state legislatures to support the creation of the state and to delineate the boundary of the proposed new state.

According to the secretary of the committee for the creation of Katagum state, they have met all the criteria in terms of size and population, saying compared to other existing states of the federation the proposed state is twice their size and population as it involves nine of the 20 local governments in the state namely Dambam, Giade, Katagum, Itas Gadau, Misau, Jama'are, Gamawa, Shira and Zaki.

He said they have no opposition to the creation of the state from within or outside the state, adding that so far, the committee has made contact with all the traditional rulers in the state who have given their approval to the creation of the new state.

However, the secretary said their greatest challenge is meeting the constitutional provision as contained in section 8 of the 1999 constitution which provides that those seeking for a state must have the support of 2/3 majority of members representing the area in the Senate, Federal House of Representatives, State Houses of Assemblies and local government councils.

He said the constitutional provision also requires a referendum with 2/3 majority of people living in the area approving the proposal and approval of the result of the referendum by a simple majority of all the states of the federation supported by a simple majority of the members of the Houses of Assembly as well as the approval of the proposal by 2/3 majority of members of each chamber of the National Assembly.

The secretary said in spite of this challenge, the committee is not deterred as there is no time limit for meeting all these requirements, as according to him, "we will soon embark on a sensitization campaign and demand for support from all the local governments in the state and outside. We are optimistic that this time around we will make it because we have met all the other requirements."

Ghari state

From Yusha'u Ibrahim, Kano

The proposed Ghari state comprises 12 local governments that include Bagwai, Bichi, Dambatta, Dawakin-Tofa, Gwarzo, Kabo, Rimin-Gado, Shanono, Tofa, Tsanyawa, Kunchi and Makoda local governments.

Chairman of Ghari state creation, Dr. Habibu Mohammed Gwarzo said that the development in Kano State is only centred on the six metropolitan local governments of the present Kano state.

Gwarzo reaffirmed that the population of the 12 local governments carved for Ghari state is more than the population of both the Republic of Gambia and Equatorial Guinea. He added further that back in Nigeria, the area is far ahead of Nasarawa and Bayelsa state in terms of population.

His words "with a population of over 9 million people, yet Kano gets the same slot for ministerial and other federal appointments with the states that have less population".

Gwarzo added that, "We have adequate dams that can boost agriculture in the area. We also have abundant mineral resources like gold, tin; zinc livestock among others, which if utilised can generate revenue that can develop the area as a state".

Tiga State

Tiga on the other hand, comprises 16 local governments out of the 44 local governments of the present Kano State. The local governments area Karaye, Rogo, Kiru, Bebeji, Tudun-Wada, Doguwa, Rano, Kibiya, Bunkure, Garko, Sumaila, Takai, Albasu, Gaya, Ajingi and Wdil.

Chairman for the creation of Tiga State, Alhaji Baffa Sani Gaya, told Sunday Trust that no efforts would be spared to ensure the dream becomes a reality.

The promoters of Tiga State are of the view that if created, the people of the new state will enjoy more development and political activities would be broadened.

According to Gaya, the creation of Tiga State will no doubt promote positive developments not only to the newly created state, but also to the old Kano, noting that more job opportunities would be provided for the communities affected.

Sardauna or Amana State?

From Muhammad, Yola

The clamour for the creation of an additional state for the Adamawa North in the proposed constitutional amendment has been intensified with the demand by some group in the zone, including traditional rulers and retired army generals. The various groups are yet to agree on an acceptable name. While a group is rooting for the adoption of Sardauna; another insists on Amana.

Already, the agitators have commenced in earnest with asensitization meeting of stakeholders convened at the headquarters of Hong Local Government Area in Adamawa state.

Local councils such as Gombi, Hong, Uba,Askira and Gwoza are expected to join the proposed State through boundary adjustment to form working structures in their areas with a view to presenting a joint position in support of the movement to the authorities.

A retired general said the creation of a new state from Adamawa was overdue, adding that democratic principles demands that the agitation receives the blessing of all people given the strategic role the Amana Nation plays in the country's body polity. The former military top brass recalled the incident that trailed the last states creation in the Northern part of the country.

There were startling revelations that the clamour for Amana or Sardauna state may face hitches as, already, there are petitions by some groups in the zone, alleging that the clamour has political undertone.

Some people are wont to see the demand of state creation from Adamawa as another attempt of whittling down the political influence of some certain politicians. Mallam Aminu Iyawa, principal special Assistant to Governor Murtala Nyako on Media, said the government was not rattled with the clamour for creation of state, but quickly admitted that some groups of individuals are working assiduously to settle scores with some top government officials.

While describing the clamour as a good development to nation building, Aminu Iyawa called on the agitators to exhibit decorum and sense of responsibility.

Offices in Hong and Yola have been opened and arrangements completed to open more offices to facilitate the workings of the various committees.

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