13 November 2012

Nigeria: No State Will Be Created From Constitution Amendment Process - Ekweremadu

Photo: Vanguard
Senate President David Mark

The Chairman, Constitution Review Committee of the Senate, Sen. Ike Ekweremadu, says new states will not be created in the ongoing review of the constitution.

Ekweremadu made the clarification on Tuesday in Abuja while briefing journalists on how the zonal public hearing on the constitution amendment would be conducted.

"I was in Enugu on Sunday where I met with my own constituents regarding the constitution amendment, and I made it clear to them that Nigerians are confusing things.

"That is why anyone can begin to expect that at the end of this exercise, somebody will come up to announce that states have been created.

"That is not going to happen because the constitution does not make such provisions," he said.

Ekweremadu, who is the Deputy Senate President, said that the process of state creation was different from what the constitution review committee was doing.

He noted that state creation was a cumbersome process, adding that there was the need for enlightenment of Nigerians to really understand the process.

"If you look at Section 8 of the constitution, there are two different issues. It is like passing a big snake through the eye of a needle.

"It is a cumbersome process and it just has to pass through that process because that is what the constitution says.

"What is going on is that Nigerians are making their request for state creation based on the fact that they believe that these two committees can come up with criteria that will favour them," he stressed.

According to him, the committee has received 56 requests for state creation.

"The committee will only advise members of the National Assembly on how many states the system can possibly create and sustain.

"If for instance, we say the Nigerian system can contain may be four, three or eight states, we can possibly give advice on how these states will be allocated to the various parts of the country," he said.

On the level of collaboration with the State Houses of Assembly, Ekweremadu said the committee was collaborating with the state assemblies in the amendment process.

"We are carrying them along in terms of information about what we are doing."

This is to enable them to understand the processes and issues so that when they vote, they would be voting from informed positions.

"We don't intend to direct the way they vote, that is not for us because they need to make up their minds based on their own convictions and the interest of people they represent," Ekweremadu added.

"It will be recalled that state Houses of Assembly had rejected the issue of autonomy which would have made them independent of the governors in the last exercise," he said.

He said the state assemblies had since had a change of mind on the issue.

Ekweremadu advised those accusing the committee of having a hidden agenda to have a rethink as it was ensuring that the process was as transparent as possible by involving every Nigerian.

He said the target of the committee was to ensure that its work was concluded by the third quarter of 2013, specifically by July, so as to steer clear of the politics of 2015 elections.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that 241 memoranda have so far been received from Nigerians.

NAN also reports that the zonal hearing will hold in Makurdi (North Central), Gombe (North East), Sokoto (North West), Enugu (South East), Calabar (South South) and Lagos (South West) between Nov. 15 and Nov. 16. NAN

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