By TONY EDIKE
ENUGU — Senator Ayogu Eze representing Enugu North Senatorial zone at the National Assembly has dismissed recent media reports that no state agitation met the basic requirements, saying the door was still open for the creation of new states.
Deputy Senate President and Chairman Senate Committee on Constitution Review, Senate Ike Ekweremadu, had in a recent media briefing revealed that requests submitted by those demanding creation of new states did not meet constitutional requirements and therefore ruled out the possibility of state creation under the present dispensation.
But speaking with newsmen, Senator Eze urged various state creation movements to keep their dream alive, stressing that the committee erroneously based its assessment on requests submitted in 2010 instead of the ones filed in 2013.
Eze, who is Chairman Senate Committee on Works, however,. doused the worry of the people of the proposed Adada State, which he represents, saying the error was not targeted at them.
He said: “Since the report of the Senate Constitution Drafting Committee was presented, there has been a lot of misconception, especially with regards to the issue of state creation.
“I want to say categorically that it is not true that the Senate committee has ruled out the possibility of state creation. The door is still open to create states; creation of state is very possible, but it is very cumbersome”.
“What happened was that the committee secretariat complicated the matter by using the request filed in 2010 instead of using the one filed in 2013, but why we didn’t want to quarrel with them is that they did it across board, and they admitted that it was a mistake on their part, that they didn’t see the updated request, when they were compiling and it did not apply to A and not apply to B. It affected every state agitation and not just Adada State.
“But I think that we have also requested movements that feel strongly about state creation to re-submit their requests and we will look at them and treat them on their merits. One thing we have discovered is that we are no longer going to treat the requests holistically; every request will be treated on its own merit, even if you meet the criteria of getting the signatures that is only an aspect. What the senate did in the case of Adada State is that they went and used names of Reps members who had already left and then said that because of that we nearly met the requirement.
“However, that is just one aspect of it, because even if we get all the signatures, which I believe we already have, it will still pass through other processes provided for in Section 8 of the constitution, which include the issue of referendum, among other things. The referendum will be conducted by the INEC in the 36 states of the federation and will get at least two third. From there, the bill will return again to the Senate and then to the 36 states house of assembly”.
Eze said he would present the request for Adada State as a separate bill to the Senate, stressing that “all I am going to do as the Senator representing the area is to prepare the bill and send it to the National Assembly. If the political will is there, if the support is there, if we are able to lobby very well, it is possible before 2015. Our people should work hard to mobilize other states”.