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New State in South-East: not a priority now

It has become fashionable nowadays for many vocal politicians, and lately, religious leaders, to call for the creation of another state in the South-East geo-political zone to bring the Igbo territory to parity with other states.

Most of the calls come from the zone itself, with a sprinkling of supporting voices from other states.

There are six geo-political zones officially recognized in Nigeria today- North East, North Central and North West in the Northern sector while the South has South East, South West and South South.

The present 36 states are nearly evenly spread across the geopolitical zones, with four of the six zones having six states each while the North West has seven states and the South East five!

Hence the strident demand, from  the people of the South East, and some fair minded Nigerians outside the zone, for at least one additional state to be carved in the South East to give the all-Igbo zone a “sense of belonging” in the polity.

Indeed early in the life of the present National Assembly, a decision was made to actualize a motion passed in the previous Parliament to create another state in the South East Zone.

Both arms of the National Assembly set up Committees to look into the matter  and report back to the plenary.

And fortuitously, the headship of the two Committees fell on legislators from the South East Zone, a development that would have hastened the accomplishment of the objective of the National Assembly.

The Senate Sub-Committee on the creation of a new sate is chaired by Senator Ike Ekweremadu, from Enugu State, and who is the Deputy Senate President.

The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, from Imo State, is Chairman of the House Sub-Committee on the subject.

The question of state creation has emerged as a front burner topic in the Committees of the two Houses on the Review of the Constitution under which it has now been subsumed.

It is important to note that following the earlier body language of the       Sixth Assembly to have a new state created, a deluge of demands descended on the National Assembly with Senate President David Mark receiving the delegations as they came and assuring them of their democratic right to seek new states.

By the last count, there are 52 such demands with National Assembly now.

With this brief background, it can be taken as a given that whenever we are ready to create more states in Nigeria, the South East will be among the beneficiaries.

Not only that. The Zone will unfailingly have an equal number of states with the other Zones.

That is why this piece has the title that creation of a state in the South East Zone is not a priority for now.

Let us concentrate and give good governance to the people of the South East Zone, both as distinct individual states, and as a homogenous unit that enjoys one language, largely one culture and one religion.

Other geo-political zones, especially the South West zone, have gone far in meeting and harmonizing their economy and political strategy.

When last did one hear of any deliberately planned and actualized meeting of the leaders of the South East geo-political zone?

Our Governors, our traditional rulers, our professionals or even zonal leaders of the political parties functioning in the South East are eminently indifferent to the political and economic fate of the zone.

But when one newspaper, usually from outside the South East Zone, raises an  issue, like State Police, our people pick up the refrain and turn themselves into megaphones for the original advocates.

Even the issue of a new state for the South East, in spite of its justness and incontestability, has not raised enough corporate concern among the leadership of the zone until a stimulus comes from outside.

One such shot in the arm came recently with a gubernatorial flamboyance, when the Kano Governor rattled both the media and the politicians in the South East Zone by what can best be described as “Rabiu’s rabid rantings.”

The irreverent Chief Executive Officer of a State that hosts millions of indigenes of South East, with egregious insensitivity, reportedly said that the Igbo territory was undeserving of a new state.

Surely he has good company with his South East colleagues whose ability to pay minimum wage depended on back loading fellow South East citizens to their respective states without any pretence of compensations by way of paying them their entitlements.

In the current flood disaster at Anambra and Imo States, you would have expected visits and donations of relief materials from other South East leaders, both political and religious. Where are they?

Life just goes on as we remain unperturbed.

Of the five Governments in the South East, which one can sincerely be said to be serving the people? And yet we want more states for more governors to emerge and junior and inexperienced civil and public officers catapulted to senior positions in their new states to continue their mutual looting of the treasury.

Let’s get this matter straight. State creation under the present constitution is impossible.

No civilian democratic government can accomplish it without a drastic review of that aspect of the constitution dealing with state creation.

It will be very necessary for our politicians, our religious leaders and, especially, our journalists, to read the Constitution and help explain to the populace that framers of the 1979 Constitution, whose stipulations on state creation, largely undisturbed since then, hardly intended that the exercise would be easily and frivolously embarked upon.

By the way, which State has successfully been created by civilians since 1963, when the old Midwest (present Edo and Delta) was born in the midst of a political crisis?

None! And none will be created unless by those who have been doing so with a fiat!

 

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