By Eric Teniola

I AM sure about what we have done right to keep the country going in the past but, to continue to survive, we have as a nation to satisfy the following necessary conditions: Equal opportunity for all citizens in education, employment and all matters relating to law enforcement (federal character  should not be applied only where it is convenient or beneficial to the ruling class, neither should it be used as the pretext for enthroning mediocrity; when applied in good faith, it can bring the best from every part of the Federation, although the contrary seems to be the case from our recent history).

Respect for life and property: Until governments and their agencies display sufficient respect for life and property, the individual citizen is being given a licence to kill and maim and deprive others of their rights to property and existence. This is one area where orderly society has collapsed and Nigerians have descended to the lowest ebb of human degradation. There is no nation that can rise to greatness without observing elementary respect for human dignity in all we do.”

It was on this basis that General Yakubu Gowon promulgated a Decree in 1967 titled: States Creation and Transition Provision.  Let us take a look at the decree that created the states at that time.

THE FEDERAL MILITARY GOVERNMENT hereby decrees as follows: For section 1 (5) of the States (Creation and Transitional Provisions) Amendment Decree 1967, there shall be substituted the following new subsections— of section 1

_ “(5) All existing law, that is to say: all law which, whether being a rule No. 14 of law or a provision of an Act of Parliament or of a Law made by the legislature of a Region or any other enactment or instrument whatsoever, which was in force in the Region out of which a State was created immediately before the commencement of this Decree, shall have effect in such State, subject to the modifications necessary to bring it into conformity with the provisions of this Decree.

(6) For the purposes of subsection (5)-above, “a Law made by the legislature of a Region” means in the case of Lagos State any enactment in force in the former Federal territory (not being an enactment of general application throughout the Federation) and a law of the legislature of the former Western Nigeria in force in those parts of Western Nigeria now forming part of Lagos State by virtue of subsection (1) of this section, and in the case of each of the other States a law of the legislature of the Region out of which such State was created, including any enactment having effect as if it were enacted by the legislature of the Region.

For the avoidance of doubt, any such law having effect as a law made by the legislature of the Region may be amended, repealed or otherwise dealt with in the prescribed manner as if it were an Edict enacted by the Military Governor or: Administrator of the State in question.”

  1. This Decree may be cited as the States (Creation and Transitional Citation and Provisions) (Amendment) Decree 1974 and shall be deemed to have come commence into operation on 27th May 1967.

For the avoidance of doubt, the Decree enables a Military Governor or Administrator of a State to modify or, as the case may require, amend or alter certain enactments and laws having effect in a State as laws made by the Legislature of a former Region (not being enactments of general application throughout the Federation) as if they were Edicts enacted by the Military Governor or Administrator of a State.

THE FEDERAL MILITARY ‘GOVERNMENT hereby decrees as follows —1—(1) The Constitution of the Federation is hereby amended to the extent set out in Part A of the Schedule to this Decree. (2) The Constitution of the former Northern Nigeria as in force in the following States that is to say, the North-Western, North-Central, Kano, North-Eastern, Benue-Plateau and Kwara States, is hereby amended to the extent set out in Part B of the Schedule to this Decree. —

(3) The Constitution of the former Eastern Nigeria as in force in the South-Eastern and Rivers States is hereby amended to the extent set out in Part C of the Schedule to this Decree. (4) The Constitution of the former Eastern Nigeria as in force in the East-Central State is hereby amended to the extent set out in Part D of the Schedule to this Decree. (5) The Constitution of the Western State is hereby amended to the extent set out in Part E of the Schedule to this Decree. (6) The Constitution of the Mid-Western State is hereby amended to the extent set out in Part F of the Schedule to this Decree. (7) The Lagos State (Interim Provisions) Decree 1968 is hereby amended to the extent set out in Part G of the Schedule to this Decree.

  1. This Decree may be cited as the Constitution (Suspension and Modification) Decree 1974. Amendments of the Constitution of the Federation.

(a) The existing section 97 shall be re-numbered as subsection (1) of that .section and immediately after the subsection as so re-numbered there shall be inserted the following new subsections “(2) There shall be a Secretary to the Federal Military Government who shall be the head of the public service of the Federation and whose office shall be an office in the public service of the Federation. (3) The Secretary to the Federal Military Government shall be appointed by the Head of the Federal Military Government.

(4) The Secretary to the Federal Military Government shall be responsible for the co-ordination of all- activities of ministries and departments of the government of the Federation and for ensuring the efficiency of the functioning of the machinery of government. (6) Immediately after section 147 (2) there shall be inserted the following new subsection :— “(2a) The Commission shall not exercise any of its powers under subsection (1)of this section in respect of such offices of heads of divisions of ministries or departments of the government of the Federation as may from time to time be designated by an order made by the Head of the Federal Military Government except after consultation with the Secretary to the Federal Military Government.”

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