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New states creation: Reality or political manoeuvres

By Luka Binniyat
The frenzy over creation of new states from the current 36 is reaching a crescendo with general elections knocking on the doors of politicians a few months from now.

Huge resources have been committed for  mass media campaign, grassroots support and even for lobbying  members of the National Assembly.

Every week, the National Assembly is besieged by thousands of natives from  proposed new states asking that a new state be given them, all citing unjust allocation of state resources and unfair  political appointments among others.

And the demands  cut across all the six geopolitical regions.

They usually storm the National Assembly with their traditional rulers and the most high profile public figure, serving and retired, to press for their demands.

The members of the National Assembly representing them, are usually the facilitators of such visist

But, not one  of them have been told the truth by the leadership of the National Assembly,  since the agitators always feigned ignorance of the stringent and near impossible provision of the Nigerian constitution in this regards -  especially just  nine months to the end of the present government.

When one considers that puzzling fact that the push for new states had started since 1999, it  appears curious that an opportunity availed itself during the just concluded amendment of the 1999 Constitution, but was dumped.

The two chambers of the National Assembly, even as they kept receiving memoranda for more states during the exercise, never included section 8 of the constitution for amendment. Thus, while Nigerians applauded the successful exercise, the non inclusion of that  aspect of the law has cast a pall on the sincerity of the National Assembly and its political leadership to creating more states.

Below is the provision of the constitution for more states in section 8. 8. (1) An Act of the National Assembly for the purpose of creating a new State shall only be passed if:

(a) a request, supported by at least two-thirds majority of members (representing the area demanding the creation of the new State) in each of the following, namely:

(i) the Senate and the House of Representatives,(ii) the House of Assembly in respect of the area, and (iii) the local government councils in respect of the area ,is received by the National Assembly;

(b) a proposal for the creation of the State is thereafter approved in a referendum by at least two-thirds majority of the people of the area where the demand for creation of the State originated;

(c) the result of the referendum is then approved by a simple majority of all the States of the Federation supported by a simple majority of members of the Houses of Assembly; and

(d) the proposal is approved by a resolution passed by two-thirds majority of members of each House of the National Assembly.

This law still stands, but, there appears to some good news.

Faced with passionate demands for the creation of about 25 new states, the National Assembly seemed set to amend that cumbersome  part of the constitution, Vanguard findings show that a  Public Hearing would be held in two weeks time by the Federal law making body on the matter and other clauses considered important, but  not part of the 50 that were amended last week

The Chairman, ad hoc committee of the House of Representatives on the review of the 1999 Constitution, who doubles also as the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Bayero Nafada revealed this to our National Assembly Correspondent in Abuja  last week.

The Deputy Speaker also said that Nigerians should expect clean copies of the new constitution this week.

On states creation, Nafada said, “to create more state, we have to go back to the constitution and look at the areas that make it tough to create new states”, he said.

“I agree that it is very cumbersome to create any states with the way the constitution is today”, he added.

“That aspect that makes it cumbersome to create new states, are some of the areas we are going to amend by deleting it from the constitution to make it easier for states to be created”, he said,  “Once we delete that from the constitution, then creating new states will not be a problem”, he added.

“ All those areas that ask for a referendum and all that before a state is created  will be removed”, he said,

“We are going to make it straight. It will just be that a demand for a new state is coming from a particular part of a state to the National Assembly and, then to the States Houses of Assembly. That will make it easy to create more states. And that can be achieved within a very short time”.

“We are having a Public Hearing in the next two weeks for some sections of the constitution and  that of  states creation will be included”, he said.

On when the National Assembly would finish analysing the clause-to-clause votes on  the  amendment by States’ Houses of Assembly to determine which clauses got the required two-third, Nafada said, “this is not a big job!”

“The only thing is that we are not the ones do to that, but the bureaucracy   of the National Assembly”.

“But if I were the one ask to do that, I will finish it today”,

“Because all you need to do is to put the clauses from one to 50,  then you say, clause “a” Adamawa state, Abia and you tick to find out if that clause meets the 24 required States of Assemblies. I believe that they will do that within three days”, he said.

Asked when Nigerians are expected to receive clean copies of the amended constitution, the speaker said, “Nigeria’s will know the clause that have been passed next week”, he said.

“Once you have all the clauses that have been passed, that is the clean copy for you”, he said.

“We believe this amended constitution largely met our peoples expectation”, he said.

“We have dwelt a lot on credible elections. And I believe that next elections will be better that the last ones we have had”, he enthused

If indeed the National Assembly is able to amend section 8, and the states 24 sates concur on the amendment as demanded by law, then it is possible to create the new states.

But as of now, it is hard to say which state would be created, or which would not, for the demands are made with total finality from seekers of the new states.

Bellow is a table of some of the demands Table showing  some states and proposed new ones.


Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.