SENATE President David Bonaventure Alechenu Mark makes sure he says things importantly. States would be created, he said. It sounds like a fait accompli. He must have figured it out, the States and added the political cost of creating them.
“Creation of additional States can only make government closer to the people contrary to the view in certain quarters that we do not need additional States in the federation,” Mark said in Ijebu-Ode, where he was attending a festival.
His thesis is wrong. States do not make governments closer to the people. Governments are not close to the people even in the state capitals where governments are located. Are the local governments close to the people? Closeness of governments to the people derives from a decision of those in charge to relate to their people, notice their challenges and tackle them. It is not an issue related to number of States. If 774 local governments are not close to the people what difference would more States make?
Many governors and legislators (even in the local governments) live in Abuja. They occasionally visit their States. Members of the National Assembly ignore their constituency offices in the States. Everyone thinks of operating from Abuja, as if the people and their challenges must be shunned.
How would the creation of new States solve these problems? How would it address marginalisation, when new States throw up new minorities? Most importantly, would creation of States consider the increasing costs of governments?
New States come with new capitals, bureaucracies that replicate poverty of the former State, new layers of wastes. Are they affordable? For an economy in distress, how would new States enhance its recovery?
Politicians are wonderful people. They have answers without the questions. If they need States, they would create them to satisfy prospective governors, new godfathers and expand the political sphere for appointments and elections. New States would serve the interests of politicians, who are anxious about their future.
There are implications from new States. Cost of governance would rise at the National Assembly which could see increase in membership to reflect the circumstances. We are complaining of too many Ministers, we would have to appoint more, since each State should have a Minister. We may have to create more Ministries to accommodate them. There would be senior special assistants and ministerial aides. The contest for power at the centre would become more unwieldy.
There were more than 66 requests for States. How many would be created to make governments closer to the people?
State creation would be an expensive decision. There are better options, before the National Assembly, which it should explore.