The national question: Is re-structuring the answer?

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Buhari-restructure

Another major point of heated discussion at the conference, was the creation of 18 new states to bring the total number of states in the country to 54. This proposal was forwarded to put to bed the question of geographical inequality by having equal (nine) amount of states in each of the six geo-political zones in Nigeria. The committee further stated that the enactment of this policy was crucial to the sustained future of the country and “in the interest of equity, justices and fairness.”

 

The removal of local government areas as a tier of government was also forwarded and approved by the panel, who agreed that local government councils will be answerable to the house of assembly as specified in the fourth section of the 1999 constitution.

 

Further, it was agreed that there was an urgent need to create new states from the ones with multiple ethnic groups and languages. With well over 511 different languages spoken within its borders, Nigeria is one of the most culturally diverse nations in the world as evinced in state like Adamawa which has over 80 languages spoken amongst its inhabitants. This is the highest number of tongues spoken in a single administrative unit in Africa. Other multi-lingual States include: Plateau, Kogi, Benue, Bauchi, Borno, Kaduna, Niger, Kebbi, and Cross River. The proposed states and their regions are stated as follows:

North-Central Zone: Apa State from the present Benue State; Edu State from the present Niger State and Gurara State from the present Kaduna State.

 

North-East Zone: Katagun State from the present Bauchi State; Amana State from the present Adamawa State (Amana State will contain the much-maligned town of Chibok); and Savannah State from the present Borno State Savannah State territory comprises mostly minority ethnic groups different from the Kanuri, the majority ethnic group that will remain in the old Borno State after the creation exercise.

 

North-West Zone: Kainji State from Kebbi, Ghari State from Kano.

 

South-East Zone:  Aba State from Abia State; Adada State from Enugu State; and Njaba-Anim State from the Anambra and Imo states respectively.

 

South-South Zone: Anioma State from Delta State; Oil Rivers State from Rivers State, Ogoja from Cross River.

 

South-West Zone: Ijebu State from Ogun State; New Oyo State from the current Oyo State, and Ose state.

 

The panel postulated that the substantiation of these reforms along with the previous ones discussed would go a long way in installing each state as a semi-autonomous federating unit, only allied with the Central government and not subject to it.

 

However, others expressed their cynicism and outright doubt, one of whom was Lawyer and civil rights activist Femi Falana who expressed concern about a perceived counter-productivity in taking this particular course of state creation. “Having regard to the several resolutions of the National Conference on the need to reduce the costs of governance, I found the recommendation for the creation of additional 18 states rather contradictory.” Other prominent voices on the political landscape have also weighed in on the issue with Former president of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr Olisa Agbakogba telling Sahara Reporter: “I do not see the 2014 conference solving the country’s problems. And the reason being that the cleavages through which the national cohesion is being turned down are many and deeper than what the agitators of restructuring are pointing at. For instance, if you group people of South-South into one region, how do you solve the question of identities between Ijaw and Itshekiri men? How do you address what the non-Fulani in the North are saying about the Fulani?”

 

 

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