Constitution Review: North-West, South-South, South-East intensify lobby for more states

Posted by News Express | 31 May 2021 | 781 times

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Agitators for the creation of new states in South-east, South-south and the North-west geopolitical zones at the weekend intensified their lobby of the National Assembly to ensure that their demands sail through, investigations have revealed.

THISDAY learnt that the agitators made forceful arguments for new states in their memoranda submitted to the Senate Committee on Constitutional Review, which concluded its two-day public hearing in the six geopolitical zones of the country last Thursday.

Some of the promoters of the new states told THISDAY that even though they submitted their memoranda to the committee at the various venues of the public hearings, they would not rest on their oars until their demands were met.

Prior to the two-day public hearing, the people of the South-east geopolitical zone had sustained an agitation for the creation of an additional state in the zone.
Their demand stemmed from the fact that of the six zones in the country, only the South-east has the least number of states, which is five. While the North-west has seven states, each of the other four zones has six states.

It was gathered that the quest for equity in the distribution of states among the zones made political leaders in the zone to sustain their agitation over the years.
The agitations had featured prominently in past constitutional reviews and during previous National Political Reforms Conferences.

As at the last count, many groups from the South-east had demanded the creation of either Adada State from the present Enugu State, Etiti State from different states in the zone, Orashi State from Imo and Anambra States, Njaba from the present Imo State or the excision of Aba State from Abia State.

However, during last week’s public hearing organised by the Senate Committee in Enugu for Enugu, Anambra and Ebonyi State, only the demand for the creation of Adada State featured.
At Owerri, the second venue for the hearing in the South-east where Imo and Abia states made submissions, the agitators wanted Aba State to be created.

The demand for the creation of Adada State, which is believed to be the collective agreement of the entire states in the area, was made by the people of Nsukka in Enugu North Senatorial District.
A member of the Committee for the Creation of Adada State told THISDAY at the weekend that the creation of Adada would give the people of the zone a sense of belonging.
“The zone has suffered long years of neglect.

It has the population and resources to sustain it as a state. We are following up on our demand after the public presentation at the hearing,” the member, who craved anonymity, said.
In his presentation to the committee on behalf of the people of Nsukka and Enugu State, former President General of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, said the demand for the creation of Adada State had come a long way.
Nwodo recalled how legislators in the South-east met in 2006 in Imo State to back the creation of Adada State.

He said: “No demand is as old as the demand for the creation of an additional state for the people and this shows it can be recommended.”
He added that the demand is unique because federal and state lawmakers, chairmen of local governments and other citizens supported it.

The leader of the Senate team and former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, in his response, agreed with Nwodo that the creation of Adada State was long overdue.
This fuelled speculations that three states – Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi– may have resolved to back Adada State in order to reduce the acrimony that had trailed the agitation for a long time.
At Owerri, the second venue of the public hearing, the people of Aba also made a strong case for the creation of Aba State.

A member of the Aba Mass Movement, promoters of Aba State, told THISDAY at the weekend that Ohanaeze Ndigbo was behind their agitations.

“This is the only agitation that has the endorsement of Ohanaeze and we are hopeful that the august body will help us to lobby the legislators so that this will materialise for the benefit of Ndi Igbo,” the source said.

During the public hearing at Owerri, Chief Theo Okire who represented Aba Mass Movement said an additional state should be created in the South-east, particularly from Abia State.
According to him, if Aba State is created in the South-east, it will address the feelings of marginalisation in the zone.
Also, a section of the South-south is clamouring for the creation of at least four additional states.

Of the four agitations, the three vocal ones are Anioma State, from present Delta State, and Torogbene and Oil River States, from Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers States.
They said the creation of the states would help “to correct the lopsided federal structure in the country.”

President of the Ijaw National Congress (INC), Prof. Ben Ogele Okaba, who described the 1999 Constitution as satanic and “the greatest injustice ever done to the Ijaw ethnic nationality” and the people of the region, told the committee that the region demanded additional four states to correct the imbalances because the constitution was allegedly skewed to shortchange the people of the oil-rich region.

Prof. Sam Ukala, who represented Delta State, expressed similar views.
Only the Edo State delegation, which included the Speaker, Edo State House of Assembly, Hon. Marcus Onobun, appeared silent on the demand for additional states.
At the Kaduna venue of the public hearing for North-west, four groups demanded the creation of states.

They included the umbrella body for the mainly Christian ethnic minorities in the southern part of Kaduna State, the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU), the Kaduna Development Elders Forum, the Movement for the Creation of Bayajida and the Kano Progressive Movement.
President of SOKAPU, Mr. Jonathan Asake, revisited the age-long agitation for the creation of Gurara State from Kaduna State.

Asake, in the group’s memo, said the creation of Gurara State would end the marginalisation of the Southern Kaduna people and the persistent ethno-religious conflicts in the state.
He described Southern Kaduna as comprising 67 ethnic nationalities spread across 13 of the 23 local government areas of Kaduna State.

He called for the amendment of Section 8 of the constitution, which according to him, “makes it almost an impossible task for the creation of a new state.”
“We have been demanding a state of our own for over 30 years and Gurara State was among the 18 states proposed in the 2014 Confab Report.

“We are demanding the creation of the Gurara State after the amendment. This will help in solving the incessant conflicts between our people and the other divide,” he stated.

Aligning itself with the demand of SOKAPU, the northern part of Kaduna State, under the aegis of Kaduna Development Elders Initiatives, whose memo was signed by all elected members from national, state and local levels, demanded the splitting of Kaduna State.

Spokesman of the group, Alhaji Abdulkadir Ahmed, said: “We are canvassing the creation of New Kaduna State from the present Kaduna State and we want the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria amended to make this possible.

“Kaduna South has been complaining of marginalisation ever since, even though chiefdoms have been given to them and they occupy 60 per cent of the workforce of Kaduna State.
“Let the state be split and if they are asking for Gurara State, let them have it.
“This will solve all the crises we have been having in this state.”

A top official of SOKAPU told THISDAY at the weekend that all the stakeholders in Kaduna have agreed that the southern part of the state should have a state of its own, adding that this unity and demonstration of solidarity will boost their cause.

“We are speaking with one voice and this will make our case easier. We won’t rest; it did not end with the public hearing; we will pursue the cause to the last-minute,” he added.

A group from Katsina State, known as Movement for the Creation of Bayajida, also demanded the creation of the state, to comprise communities from parts of Katsina, Jigawa and Zamfara States.
The Secretary of the movement, Mr. Kabir Ado Daura, stated that the agitation for the creation of Bayajida State is out of the people’s growing desire in the three states to be merged together as they belong to the same religious and cultural backgrounds.

Also, the Kano Progressives, in its submission, demanded the creation of another state out of Kano State.
The group described Kano State as the most populated in the country with 44 local government areas, stressing that it needs to be split to bring rapid development to the people. (THISDAY)

 


Source: News Express

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